Horseradish originated in Western Asia and Southeast Europe. This ancient plant was used and mentioned often by the early Greeks and Egyptians. It’s flavorful and medicinal uses were numerous and very popular in these early civilizations. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both write about Horseradish when they describe gardening in North America. It is a perennial plant and grows to about five (5) feet tall. Related to broccoli, mustard, and cabbage, Horseradish has a large white root. When grated into a mash the cells of the plant begin to deteriorate. Mustard oil is produced during this process. The human sinus, mucous membranes, and eyes become irritated by the mustard oil. Heat and exposure to air becomes the enemy of Horseradish. Keep your Horseradish refrigerated and air tight to preserve the pungent aroma and white color. If you fail to do this it will become dark in color, and become very bitter to the taste.Creamy Horseradish
Horseradish and its numerous and various sauce versions go well with beef dishes and sandwiches. It also can enhance your salads. Many bartenders spice up the Bloody Mary cocktail by adding Horseradish. That use is one of my personal favorites. We never run out of Horseradish at our house for this very reason. You never know when the urge for a Bloody Mary may occur.
Throughout the world Horseradish appears in many different dishes. In Germany it is an essential part of the wedding dinner. Poland makes a variety called Red Beet Horseradish, and they make a special soup with it for Easter Sunday. The Italians also mix Horseradish with sour cream, apples, and hard boiled eggs for their Easter Sunday celebrations. Jewish cooking calls for its use with gefilte fish. Throughout the world it can be found enhancing food of all kinds by people of many nations. If you are not using Horseradish in your kitchen, give it a try, as I’m sure you will be delighted by its unique flavor. You don’t have a lot to lose. The hardest thing is finding where your grocery store displays it. Most have it in the dairy but you may have to ask if you can’t find it there.