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Harvesting and Using Horseradish

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Horseradish is one of those amazing perennial plants to have in the garden. It grows easily and thankfully, harvesting horseradish is a snap, too.

Piece of horseradish root sitting on a leaf with text overlay.

It grows well even when neglected, in fact it can be invasive if not kept in check.  The great thing about keeping it in check is that it usually the roots we’re after and digging them up each fall means we can keep it from spreading too far and wide.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of horseradish as a spread on meats but I do enjoy taking fire cider as part of my daily routine.  Fire cider is reason enough for me to have it in the garden.

How to Harvest Horseradish

After the first fall frost, cut back the leaves of the plant you plan to harvest. Wait about 4 days, longer is okay, to harvest the root. Dig up the roots by simply digging and pulling what can be loosened from the soil. This can be done as long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Freshly harvested horseradish roots in a basket.

Harvest only what is needed at a given time and keep digging until a freeze. Alternatively, dig up a bunch and preserve for later. Any bits of root left in the ground will sprout new plants next year.

Using Horseradish Fresh

You can, of course, make your own horseradish sauce.

Wash and peel the roots using a vegetable peeler, wash again and leave sitting in cold water to prevent discoloration.

Grate the root, be forewarned – this is strong stuff and has the tendency to make folks cry and clear out the sinuses, much like onions.  

Grated horseradish root sitting on wooden cutting board next to box grater and pieces of whole root.

Put the 1 cup of grated root into a jar and cover with 1/2 Cup white or white wine vinegar and a bit of salt. Cider or other types of vinegar have a tendency to make the roots turn dark in color (fine to eat just not always what people expect to see).

Use this preparation on roast beef or other bits of meats and on sandwiches.

This horseradish will stay good in the refrigerator for about a month though it may lose a good bit of its heat in that time. It’s best to use it up quickly.

Preserving Horseradish

The grated root can be frozen. I simply grate it and freeze in 1 cup portions.  It does have a tendency to lose a little bit of heat but not too much and I’ve found that the frozen, defrosted root works great in fire cider.

The root can also be dehydrated by slicing and drying until crisp but again it loses a good bit of heat and flavor in the process.

It can also be fermented for gut-healthy and tasty fixings.

Horseradish root sitting on a horseradish leaf.

Other Uses for Horseradish

While horseradish is often served with roast beef, it has some pretty powerful medicinal uses as well.

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Mary Lou Morin

Wednesday 23rd of August 2017

We've been growing horseradish in a container now for two years. Every November or December we pull the entire plant out and use/process the biggest root, saving the smaller ones for planting in March of the following Spring. So we always have a fresh supply on hand!

Carmen

Saturday 31st of December 2016

My mother was born in Poland and emigrated to the US. Many of our family's culinary traditions come from Northern Europe. Our family eats horseradish mixed with equal parts grated beets and allowed to ferment for at least three days. We usually put this mixture as a condiment on boiled carp or fish canelles.

Beth

Sunday 18th of October 2015

We offered a Horseradish Fest in our home as a church auction item and it was a huge success. The guests grated and blended the fresh horseradish when they arrived. We then mixed the appropriate amount in sauces to compliment our dinner of beef, salmon, mixed green salad, roasted root veggies and s'mores around the campfire for dessert. This sauce disappeared COMPLETELY ! 3 T. horseradish, 1/4 c. sour cream, 1 t. Dijon mustard, 1 T. mayonnaise and 1 T. chopped chives. YUM!

Homespun Seasonal Living

Sunday 18th of October 2015

What a great and yummy event. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

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