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The Facts on Horseradish

Updated on February 10, 2015
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

by Frank Vincentz on wikimedia commons
by Frank Vincentz on wikimedia commons

Let's Stop Horsing Around

So many people around the world is in love with horseradish. This root has found its way into the hearts of millions. It can be found in main dishes, appetizers, side dishes, and in its wonderful raw beauty. This root is mysteriousy tasteful and firmly established in our menus.

by Anna reg on wikimedia commons
by Anna reg on wikimedia commons

The Truth About Horseradish

Horseradish is a root that is a member of the mustard family which can be harvested in the spring and in the fall.  Some of the roots when harvested roughly resembles a horse.  But it is not its shape that makes it so dear to us all.  It is its strong aroma and taste that grabs us.

Harvest a horseradish and take a quick bite of it will leave you rather perplexed.  There will not be near the heat that you have heard of or experienced in the past with a horseradish condiment.  That is because you have done very little to release the secret arsenal the horseradish holds in its cells.  Only when the cell walls are torn apart and the horseradish heat is released.  That is why you will find more heat from grated and ground up horseradish then you will in a completely raw piece.

When the oil is released from the cells and heat spreads, vinegar has to be quickly be added to lesson the intensity of the heat.  When you purchase horseradish in jars at your local grocery stores you have a watered down or vinegared down version.  The vinegar stabilizes the oils so that they can be consumed easier.

The hunger for horseradish generates over twenty-four million pounds of the harvested root.  This generates about six million gallons of ground horseradish to be used in spreads, creams, and sauces.  In fact, it is so loved that Collinsville, Illinois celebrates the horseradish with the International Horseradish Festival.  Collinsville is where approximately sixty percent of the world's horseradish.

Sedar/Passover meal
Sedar/Passover meal

The History

Evidence of horseradish can be traced as far back as three thousand years. It was used throughout the ancient world and in later years of Europe it was used sexually as an aphrodisiac, to lesson back pain, as an aid in digestion, and as an active participant in the Jewish Passover, or Sedar, meal.

Traditionally, the Jewish Passover is celebrated to remember the time of the Hebrews under Egyptian rule and the events that led up to their freedom. The horseradish's part is the role of bitter herb which was meant to remind the Jews of the bitterness of slavery before the taste of freedom.

It was really the area of modern Germany that the root has been traced back and it is the Germans who brought it to American and helped spread the love. Horseradish does not have the history and legends that many others have, but it is deeply loved.  Over the years many have tried to use it for medicinal means, but it was only until recently that research is beginning to show that horseradish can be used in the war against cancer.

You can find the root today in so many dishes. Try it on a hamburger, a steak, a fillet of fish, or part of a delicious salad. The horseradish is versatile and used by many. See about a little horseradish today.


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    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 3 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Great stuff. I use horseradish all the time but can't wait till spring. I am going to grow some next year.

    • UlrikeGrace profile image

      UlrikeGrace 7 years ago from Canada

      I love horseradish and have grown it myself. However preparing it you need the constitution of a horse! It will water the eyes and smell up the house for days afterwards. So I have succumbed to buying it ready made. Wonderful hub...I feel like making a roast with horseradish tomorrow!Blessings.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Interesting hub. I like horseradish with roast beef.

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 7 years ago

      I have never tried the horseradish, but now I want to :) Thanks for great hub ;)

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      Wow! I sure learned a lot, RGraf. I have only ever tasted a little in sauce and didn't find it to my liking however maybe i should give it another try! Thanks for an educational read!