Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Horseradish is a powerful and pungent plant. It has the 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.
More info on how to prepare the fresh root can be found here.
It acts as a substitute for Wasabi.
Plant it in an area where it can stay. Once established it is hard to get rid of horseradish, growing back from small root fragments.
Growing Conditions: Plant out roots in winter (July/August in NZ), in any fertile, well-drained soil. Horseradish grows best in moist, silty soils like those found in river bottomland, but enriched clay or sandy loam with a near neutral pH is acceptable. Add well-rotted manure and compost to the soil and work it in, breaking up any clumps of clay.
Planting: Plant horseradish roots and seedlings 30cm apart. Mulch heavily to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Water frequently to get them through the summer until they are well established. Remove weeds in spring that crowd the young shoots. Growing horseradish plants develop most of their storage roots in early autumn, so they should not be allowed to run dry in late summer. Mature horseradish plants may send up spikes of white flowers in late spring. Clip off the seed heads before they become fully mature, because horseradish easily becomes weedy.
Medicinal Uses: 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. Acts as a substitute for Wasabi / Black radish.
It can be used to make horseradish sauce, is used in Fire Cider and makes a great condiment for hearty meat and bean dishes.
Harvesting: For big roots dig them in the autumn of the second growing season. Under optimum conditions a reasonable good harvest can be achieved with only one growing season (plant in spring and harvest the following winter). It is best to harvest in the middle of winter, when most leaves have died off. Use a digging fork or spade to loosen the soil on two sides of the plant, gathering up broken pieces of root as you dig. Then loosen the soil on the other side of the plant before attempting to pull it. Set aside or replant root pieces the size of a pencil, and store others in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Harvesting horseradish can continue into winter provided the ground is not frozen — or, you can dig the roots first thing in spring. Between diggings, keep fresh horseradish roots in the fridge, ready to use. They need to be processed within a few days for best results.
Processing: Once you dig the roots, store in fridge. Grate the roots within a few days otherwise they get too hard for grating or they get mouldy.
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 to add the vinegar.
Preparing the root for eating