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Home Grown Horseradish is Better than Commercially Made

Updated on October 9, 2012
Horseradish Plants
Horseradish Plants | Source

Memories of Days Gone By...

Another one of the memories of growing up in Downeast Maine, was fresh, home grown horseradish. If you like the flavor of horseradish, you will love this, which is a lot more than a tang. Just a few of these plants will suffice for your family. It is related to mustard. The tender spring leaves from horseradish will add a mustard-like taste to your ham or favorite cheese sandwich, with its hot taste, but it is usually grown for the root. These plants will do best in a cold climate, and it is best to save these for container gardening, as it will spread profusely. Water it upon occasion and give it a bit of manure and if you’d prefer to grow it outside, do it in a bottomless 5-gallon bucket.

Horseradish Root
Horseradish Root | Source

Planting

Horseradish grows from a root cutting. Any of the secondary roots has a number of side roots growing from the upper portion of the main root. Cut them off straight-sided where they join the main root. Trim off the root tip at a slant in the fall, when you harvest your crop. Store the cuttings in damp sand in your root cellar until late winter or very early spring, when you can get into the garden to plant it. Dig 6-inch deep trenches in heavy and fertile, well-tilled soil. You can make rows a foot apart and space the plants the same. Lay in the root cutting at a 45 degree angle, the straight-cut and thicker end to the top. Cover so that the top of the root is three inches underground. Pack soil firmly around the roots.

Some people are of the opinion that the roots taste best when small and that harvesting should begin as soon as the roots are well begun. Some feel that the roots are best after a few frosts. You can dig up the roots the fall after they have been planted, from September until the ground freezes. You can also dig up in early spring before the leaves start. Just remember that horseradish has its biggest growth spurt in late summer and early fall, so you’d get your best harvest in the fall. Harvesting also keeps the plants from spreading, and any root or piece of a root will grow again. About four days prior to harvest, remove the tops of the ones that you plan to remove as near to the ground as possible. That will make them die back. After digging, use as soon as possible or store in your root cellar.

Horseradish Picked From the Garden
Horseradish Picked From the Garden | Source

Harvesting

The roots keep best in the ground, so most people will dig them up as needed. If you must dig and have to wait to use them, store them layered in damp sawdust or sand in an outdoor pit or root cellar. They will keep 4-6 months between 32-40 degrees F with a 90-95% humidity.

Source

Preparation

Wear gloves when working with horseradish, and keep the juice away from your eyes and any cuts. The flavor comes from the oil that they contain. Scrub the roots well, and don’t worry about how they look. Peel off the brown outer skin with a peeler. Put them in cold water right after peeling to keep them from turning dark. Then put them in a blender food processor, or grate by hand. They will make you cry. Put them into small jars.

Preserving

Add white or distilled vinegar to moisten the horseradish and to keep it from turning color. Add a half cup vinegar for each cup of grated horseradish. Pack in jars and tightly cap. Get the product bottled as quickly as possible, and refrigerate to keep it spicy. Generally, make it as needed, as it will lose the heat. If the vinegar evaporates, replace it as it will turn dark and lose its flavor.

Horseradish Spread

Mix grated root with a bit of vinegar and heavy cream. It is wonderful with burgers.

Sandwich Filling

Mix equal proportions horseradish and mayo. Make sandwiches with watercress, thinly sliced tomato, radishes, or cucumbers.

Fancy Horseradish

Chill a half cup of sour cream and whip until stiff. Add half tsp. sugar or a pinch salt and whip more. Fold in two Tbsp. of your prepared horseradish. Add a Tbsp. chopped parsley or chives, a Tbsp. vinegar or a pinch of cayenne pepper, or a half tsp. prepared mustard, or a dah Tabasco sauce, or a quarter tsp. pepper. Serve with ham or meatloaf.

Horseradish Sauce

Melt a Tbsp. butter and blend in a Tbsp flour(or if wheat intolerant like me), cornstarch. Add a cup of water or soup stock. Cover and heat just to boiling. Stir in a half cup freshly grated horseradish, a Tbsp. lemon juice, then salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for two minutes and serve. This is terrific with beef tongue or roast beef.

Enjoy your horseradish and share with your friends who have it on their shopping list. Once you have the home grown, you’ll never go back to commercially prepared horseradish again. I guarantee it!

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Fair warning, Audrey, you'd best use a gas mask to prepare the fresh horseradish. It is going to be very strong, but it is SO good. I have been eating horseradish for years. I really enjoy a pita with swiss cheese, spinach, and horseradish with a little mayo, just enough to spread it. Then I put the folded pita in a frying pan to melt the cheese and slightly cook the spinach.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 months ago from California

      I love the idea of growing this! I love it and hate paying for it

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 18 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Peg, I don't know of anyone that has ever tried to cook horseradish. I would think that it would be like mustard gas--enough to immobilize the average person.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 18 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Interesting tips on growing and storing horseradish. I love the taste of it although I've never grown it and cooked it fresh.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Linda, once you discover it, it is wonderful stuff, and you'll never want the commercially produced variety again. It is possible that it will grow in a container, but it might have to be rather deep in order to get the full benefits of the horseradish.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Another great, useful hub. I love horseradish Deb but have never grown it. Have you ever done it in a container? I would like to try it. Funny story - Many years ago I was on a business trip. I spent every day in class but a group of us would go to lunch together. The first day there, we went to the closest restaurant where I found they had a side of beef on the buffet. When I got to the cashier, there was a huge bowl of freshly ground horseradish and I got myself a big old heap of it. I was as happy as a pig in mud. It was go fresh and good that I ate there every day for two solid weeks and had the same lunch every day. I'm a confessed horseradish fiend.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Just want to be sure that we are on the same page. Horseradish can be a rather large root, and radishes are only mildly hot. Horseradish will singe your hair off with the heat, figuratively speaking.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      ohhh i love radish! especially on 'sinigang' soup and radish salad with fresh tomatoes and onions :)

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      And grandma was always right. Thanks, Kathy, for visiting and your comment.

    • kathyinmn profile image

      Kathy 4 years ago from Jordan MN

      we put horsereadish on beef, sausages, and ham. put's hair on your cheast don't ya know, (saying from grandma) lol

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It sure will, Kathy, and will proliferate, too. You must use it in sausages, eh?

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sure, Carol. Once it is established, it grows every year.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It is great to eat home grown. Man, I have never tasted anything better in my life, except of course, GARLIC!

    • kathyinmn profile image

      Kathy 4 years ago from Jordan MN

      Joe bought a small root from the grocery store and planted it. It grew and after 2 years in the ground we got a very nice harvest of horseradish. We use it a lot (we're part polish you know!) We are looking forward to the remaining root system to grow more horse radish and another harvest in a few years.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Cool idea and we love horseradish. Thanks for sharing this.

    • profile image

      summerberrie 4 years ago

      I've never even thought about growing horseradish! Sounds like a great thing to try.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      No, you can't breathe too deeply around the real thing. Breathing through the nose is a lot better.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Great write. My brother grows and then makes his own. I made the mistake of walking by his vat of the home grown processed horse radish sauce and let just say I don't need sinus medicine any more.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Absolutely. Any questions, feel free to ask. My mother used to trade-off home canned veggies with neighbors every year. That way, everyone got a bit of everything.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never grown it but I'm thinking next year I should try. Thanks for the instructions. Great hub for us gardeners.

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