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Horseradish - An Old Herb That's Great For Culinary Dishes

Horseradish is one of my favorite herbs. Its lush history reflects the plants popularity today. The Greeks used it many centuries ago for adding flavor to their food. This herb was one of England's first unusual spices.

For numerous years, this plant was grown in many geographic locations. Africa, Asia, India, England, Germany, France and Holland were among the many. Each of these areas enjoyed the flavor that this herb provided in many different dishes. It is still grown today in these countries.

A unique feature today is this herb is grown as far north as Iceland in the Arctic Circle, and as far south in upper elevations of tropical countries. Today the United States produces an abundance of commercialized prepared horseradish.

Prepared Horseradish

Prepared Horseradish

Root Of Horseradish

The Root Of Horseradish

It grows best in cooler climates in the northeast and parts of the mid west. This perennial plant is actually a part of the mustard family. The herb grows well in a rich soil with cool temperatures and high humidity. The leaves are large and a rich green color.

The roots are edible and are about five inches to a foot long, and one to two inches in wide. Horseradish is propagated by root cuttings in the springtime.

Taking proper steps to plant this herb will result in a good healthy plant. Take the root cutting and put the small end into the soil about two to three inches deep. It should be spaced one and a half to two feet apart.

There is a little more care to this herb when growing compared to others. Once the leaves reach about a foot tall, remove the soil around the plant. Your goal is to give exposure to the root. Cut most of the sprouts leaving one to three sprouts on the root. Put the soil back over the root and repeat this process again in five to six weeks. Above is a picture of a mature root.

It is a rapid grower and will spread throughout the summer months. The best time to harvest this herb is in late fall. Cut off the tops before removing the plant. A nice aspect of this herb is when you cut the top off, you can plant it again next year.

The root should be grated immediately after removing from the ground. Usually it is grated into one quarter inch slices and stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.

You can also store the whole root in cellars, barns, and outside pits. Another great place to store is in a cold frames. The roots should have some light exposure to retain their color. If it is kept in darkness, the root tends to turn green.

After the process of propagating, growing and harvesting, the best part has arrived. Now you can decide how you want to use the horseradish.

Herbee and I remember as a child, an uncle of mine grew this herb in upstate New York. He made prepared horseradish out of the root. He combined the grated root with vinegar to offset the strong flavor of the grated root. The smell was so strong that it could cure any sinus problem.

You can add some sour cream or mayonnaise and create a wonderful sauce for a beef roast. One of the most popular ingredients added to cocktail sauce for seafood is prepared horseradish. Culinary chefs create a variety of dishes using both prepared and fresh roots.

We like to incorporate about half a teaspoon of fresh grated root, and mix it with a small ramekin of fresh garlic. Combine with dice red onions, chopped garlic chives and basil leaves. Sauté to a caramelized color and top on any of your favorite vegetables as well as meats.

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Horseradish has a very unique growing method and also creates a distinct flavor in so many dishes. The leaves are wonderful in a lunch or dinner salad.

There is also medicinal value to this herb. A warm cup of tea made with this root and ginger root will help relive the cold feeling on a late winter night. It is also good as a soothing oil for sore muscles and joints.

Here are a few facts about a couple of cultures. This herb is also a big part of the Jewish Passover. Horseradish is used at the Seder dinner table on the first night of Passover. It is used to symbolize the freedom from slavery under the Egyptian Pharaoh with the parting of the Red Seas by Moses.

The Japanese's local variety for this herb is Wasabi. It is smaller but very similar to the actual leaves and roots. The grated roots are used in raw fish to help kill some of the parasites. It is served with sashimi, sushi, soba, and tofu, and is mixed with Japanese soy sauce.

This is another wonderful herb family member that gives you the greenery in a garden as well as an exceptional flavor to many different culinary dishes.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In.

Cayenne --- Shallot and Leek

Drying Herbs --- More Spicy Options Besides Horseradish

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