WHAT IS HORSERADISH?
Horseradish is a root vegetable relative of broccoli. Capable of growing up to 5 feet tall, this plant is cultivated for the root at its base. Untouched, the root by itself has little to no aroma. But once cut, the enzymes within the plant produce mustard oil. This defensive measure irritates and drives away predators. However the pungency of the flavor and odor will dissipate quickly as the oil evaporates upon contact with air. When making the condiment, the root is freshly cut and mixed with distilled vinegar and oil. This helps to trap its spicy taste!
WHY IS HORSERADISH GOOD FOR YOU?
A popular homeopathic ingredient, it has anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic benefits. The vitamin and mineral benefits are minor. But anti-oxidant compounds like sinigrin and enzymes like peroxidase are currently being researched for anti-cancer benefits. This ingredient is a great way in general to add a bit of friendly heat to any recipe.
WHEN IS HORSERADISH IN SEASON?
This is both a Spring and Fall harvest. However it’s an aggressive plant, so once planted be prepared for an invasion!
HOW SHOULD HORSERADISH BE STORED?
The root itself is traditionally preserved with a mix of salt, sugar and vinegar. Once the condiment is made, keep tightly sealed in a glass jar. You can refrigerate or freeze it for several months. Or if you want to preserve the whole root, peel and cut it into decent-size portions and place into a jar with distilled vinegar. Seal the jar and refrigerate like above for the best results.
OVER HALF OF THE WORLD’S HORSERADISH IS GROWN IN ILLINOIS?
That’s right! Each May the International Horseradish Festival is held in Collinsville, Illinois to celebrate this economic staple. This part of the Mississippi river basin was carved out by glaciers long ago and today is rich in potash which this root loves. Furthermore cool winters and long local summers provide ideal harvest conditions.