Skip to content

Foodstuff: Horseradish Root

Horseradish Root 1

This rather gnarly looking object is not a withered old tree branch, but rather is the root vegetable that is the source of that sharp, pungent white condiment usually only encountered in jars purchased at the supermarket. Most people are well familiar with the commercial product as an especially good accompaniment to roast beef, but it does have other uses as well. It is sometimes used in ‘Bloody Mary’ concoctions, it works well as a sandwich spread for all sorts of creations (and not just those using cold beef), and it is very commonly used to provide the sharp bite of the standard seafood cocktail sauce. Quite a few Cole-slaw sauces also use it too. The purchased varieties are fine to use, as long as you don’t let them age too long, but there are some benefits to using the fresh article that are also worth investigating…

Horseradish Root 2

Here you can see the cut surface of the root. If you smell it, as is, the familiar horseradish aroma is apparent, but is quite muted. This is because the various chemicals responsible for the taste and smell must first combine and be acted upon by enzymes, which can only be accomplished through breaking the cell walls, such as is achieved by grating. The main chemical produced by the reactions involved is the same chemical known as ‘mustard oil’. Indeed, horseradish and mustard are both plants in the same ‘Brassicaciae’ botanical family, which includes cabbage, and the very similar tasting ‘Japanese horseradish’ known as Wasabi.

 

Horseradish Root 3

Before grating, or otherwise processing the root for use, one must remove the very tough outer -skin with a vegetable peeler, or the like. Once you do, the body of the root has an appearance and feel very much like a parsnip. Moreover… and this is the true benefit one gains from using the fresh article… it also has the sweet smell and taste of parsnip beneath the usual, sharp, mustard like pungency.

Unfortunately, exposure of the whole or grated root to air, without taking steps to preserve the flesh with vinegar, causes the stronger tastes to quickly lose strength, and, even with preservation, the sweet quality disappears not long after grating. If you get the chance, try tasting a little of the freshly grated root alongside one of the commercial preparations and you will see what I mean.

 

Horseradish Root 4

Generally, the root can be grated with an ordinary kitchen grater but this is laborious and a food processor works well too. During this process, you can add the preserving vinegar as you go as this will help make a finer, somewhat smoother blend. Basically, just keep adding a little at a time in a thick porridge like consistency is obtained.

While you do this, you will experience much the same ‘eye-burning’ sensations you get from peeling onions. The aroma will be very strong but, take a good whiff directly from the bowl of your processor at your own peril… I promise you, the fumes will make your trachea virtually slam shut like tear gas.

To improve the storage life beyond a week or so, you can also add a pinch of salt or two and then put the finished condiment in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge. You can, in fact, keep the vinegared blend for a few months but it will darken with age (losing its pristine appearance) and the flavour will not only diminish, but once the condiment gets considerably darker, it will also get bitter.

 

Horseradish Root 5

Aside from the usual blend of grated root with vinegar, one can make ‘horseradish cream’, or purchase ‘horseradish sauce’. The former basically consists of the gratings combined with sour cream and (usually) fresh cream as well. For obvious reasons, this sort of preparation necessarily needs to be made fairly close to use and will not keep well.

Horseradish sauces, in contrast, are generally mayonnaise based and tend to keep longer. The one pictured above is just a very basic preparation and just contains horseradish, salt, vinegar, and some commercially made mayonnaise. You can, of course do the same and add to the basic recipe with all manner of additions.  Mustard and lemon juice are common additions to commercial varieties, but you can try dried herbs, or, indeed, anything that suits your fancy…

 

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hans Susser #

    Love horseradish, use it all the time 🙂
    Cheers !

    April 19, 2017
    • Me too… its a must for hot roast beef (for cold, I like mustard).

      April 19, 2017
  2. Thanks, this will help next time I pick up one of those roots.

    April 19, 2017
    • We only see them here periodically unfortunately.

      April 19, 2017

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Beef Tataki with Horseradish Sauce | Sybaritica

Comments, thoughts or suggestions most welcome...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Meet & Eats

The food that I've had the pleasure of meeting and eating.

Uncle Grumpy's Playroom

Current events, humor, science, religion, satire

Food Travel Lover

走过的地方 尝过的美食 留下的回忆

The Odd Pantry

Essays on food

Reputable Sources

Organizing ferments since 2013

that Other Cooking Blog

. food . photo . sous vide .

REMCooks

My Virtual Cookbook to Share My Love and Joy of Food and Cooking One Recipe at a Time

lola rugula

my journey of cooking, gardening, preserving and more

Yummy Lummy

I cook, photograph and eat food with the occasional restaurant review!

Eye Of the Beholder

A pair of eternally curious eyes and a camera...Life is beautiful.

gluten free zen

Taking The Stress Out Of Gluten-Free Grain-Free & Dairy-Free Living

Clayton's Kitchen

Big flavors and fun cooking from a cubbyhole kitchen

Bunny Eats Design

Happy things, tasty food and good design

DENTIST CHEF

Dentist chef, just a dentistry student who practice the dentist's cooking recipes in a dentist's kitchen

Mad Dog TV Dinners

Guess what's coming to dinner?

Chefsopinion

Real Food & Real Opinions

Bento Days

Making bentos for kids

Garden to Wok

Fresh and tasty!

Bam's Kitchen

Healthy World Cuisine

Trang Quynh

everyone is special in their own way :)

Farm to Table Asian Secrets

Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season

HolyPrettyApple

If people say that life is too short to drink bad wine, it means also that life is too short to eat crappy food!

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

The Unorthodox Epicure

Confessions of an Aspiring Food Snob

The 好吃 Challenge

1 girl, 273 days, 100 recipes

Rabbitcancook

a recipe sharing and bento blog

benleeirene

Just another WordPress.com site

The Food Nazi

Never try to eat more than you can lift

Expat Chef in Barcelona

From my kitchen to yours

Keeping Up With the Holsbys

a journey into my head and my pantry

Nurul's Culinary Adventures

I Love Food, the Universe and Everything!!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

home-cooking recipes, restaurant reviews, International cuisine ,

Naked Vegan Cooking

Body-positive Vegan Goodness

Bites of Food History

Sharing my Experimental Archaeology of Food

Stefan's Gourmet Blog

Cooking, food, wine

FOODTRAIL

A Journey About Food, Recipes And Destinations

bcfoodieblogger

Fresh, exciting and adventurous food journey

One Man's Meat

Multi-award winning food blog, written in Dublin, Ireland.

%d bloggers like this: