Preparing Fresh Horseradish Root

We have grown horseradish for its pungent culinary and medicinal root well before we had KoruKai Herb Farm. We bought a pot with a seedling from a farmer’s market in Christchurch and have since grown and divided it into hundreds of plants over the last 10 years.

Lush horseradish leaves in December at KoruKai Herb Farm, New Zealand.

In 2018 we started selling surplus seedlings and in 2019 we started selling the freshly dug root for the culinary creations of our customers. We also offer freshly grated root in a convenient glass jar (Grated Horseradish Root).
We were blown away by the feedback and customers raved about the flavour and freshness that they have never come across before with store-bought horseradish. This gave us motivation and made us plant 3 additional plots. The demand has been very high this year for the fresh root and we have had inquiries every week since March!

The root can only be dug at the end of autumn and over winter when the above part of the plant has died back concentrating the flavour into the root and before the shoots start to grow in spring.

Died back leaves in May tell us that we can start digging the horseradish roots.

This meant a lot of patience was needed during a global pandemic, as our customers wanted to make fire cider to ward off infections and improve their immune system asap. In May this day has finally come and we are back into digging the roots to order on a weekly basis.

Horseradish is a powerful and pungent plant connected to a wide variety of health benefits, including its ability to aid in weight loss, lower blood pressure, alleviate respiratory conditions, build strong bones, improve the immune system, stimulate healthy digestion and to promote heart health.

It has its strongest flavour when freshly prepared and often acts as a substitute for Wasabi / Black radish. It’s medicinal constituents can be harnessed by infusing it with apple cider vinegar like in a Fire Cider or by turning it into a tincture. We do both methods on the farm and can recommend both of them.
Culinary it can be used to make horseradish sauce and makes a great condiment for hearty meat and bean dishes, corned beef and hard to digest foods.

Grating horseradish releases the volatile oils (isothiocyanates), which give horseradish its heat. Adding vinegar stops the enzymatic reaction. The longer you wait to add vinegar, the hotter your prepared horseradish will be.
For mild horseradish, add the vinegar immediately, either right after grinding is complete or during it. If you like stronger flavor, wait three minutes before adding the vinegar.

The below method explains how to prepare fresh horseradish root before storing it in the fridge. This is an easy way to have a jar of grated root on hand when needed as a condiment or for cooking.
You will need:

  • 20-25 cm long piece of horseradish root about 100g total
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, more to cover
  • Pinch salt

Once you have dug up some roots, remove the leaves from the roots and brush the dirt off. Give them a good scrape with a vegetable brush in a sink and rinse them well. We generally do not peel the root, but scrape and cut pieces off with a knife where dirt could not be removed with the brush. The roots bought from us come clean and are ready to get chopped. Chop roughly into pieces and put into a food processor. Add a couple of tablespoons of water.

Process until well ground. At this point be careful. Ground up fresh horseradish is many times more potent than freshly chopped onions and can really hurt your eyes if you get too close. Keep at arm’s length away, and work in a well ventilated room when opening the lid of the food processor.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt for each cup of grated horseradish.
Carefully transfer the grated horseradish to a clean jar.

Freshly grated horseradish root.

At this point you might have to add some more vinegar so that the horseradish is submerged.
Store your fresh horseradish in a sealed jar in the refrigerator, where it will keep for four to six weeks. We use it as is as a condiment and also mix it into sauces. Below are some more suggestions. Whenever you take some out make sure to push contents back down into the vinegar before resealing the jar and putting it back into the fridge.

Horseradish root in vinegar ready to go in the fridge.

Cooking With Horseradish Root

Most of us know horseradish as a classic accompaniment to hot or cold roast beef. Here some other ways to use the inimitable flavor of homemade horseradish. When using horseradish in hot dishes, add it just before serving, as cooking destroys its flavor.

  • Mix homemade whipped cream with a bit of honey, lemon juice, and horseradish for a heavenly accompaniment to steamed fresh asparagus spears.
  • Blend with yoghurt, sour cream, or crème fraiche to make a delicious dip for raw vegetables. Add fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix a bit into softened butter, along with chopped parsley or chervil, and serve on a grilled steak or melted over steamed beets.
  • Stir a teaspoon into homemade mashed potatoes.
  • Use a lemon zester to grate a few threads right off the root to make a pungent garnish for grilled fish, especially salmon and fresh tuna.
  • Add to your favorite homemade or prepared barbecue and shrimp cocktail sauces.

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