The horseradish plant is native to Europe and Asia and horseradish root is widely used in the South East Asian cuisine for imparting a very distinctive and powerful flavor. The horseradish plant looks similar to the mustard plant and has large curled leaves and clusters of small flowers. The plant itself is inedible but the root is used for flavoring soups and stews as it has a peppery pungent flavor similar to that of mustard. The root of horseradish plant has a brown colored fleshy exterior while its inside is snowy white in color. When the horseradish root is grated or crushed, it releases volatile oils known as isothiocyanate which gives it its characteristic pungent flavor. If the grated horseradish is kept outside, it quickly loses its potency and flavor. So it is usually steeped in vinegar to maintain its peppery flavor and aroma.

Growing Horseradish

Planting horseradish in your garden is a great idea if you want to get fresh horseradish to put in your dishes. The best way to grow them is by planting it from a root cutting rather than from horseradish seeds. You can get the cutting by purchasing a horseradish root and slicing it and planting it in the ground. Cover the root cutting with soil completely and then water it thoroughly. If you do not have space for a garden or live in an apartment, you can grow horseradish even in a deep container. As long as you water it regularly, the plant will grow and thrive. When you have a grown plant, you can dig out some of the root by gently lifting it from the soil. Break off the amount you require and bury the rest of the root in the ground. Horseradish plants are very low maintenance and do not require any special care or fertilizers.

Health Benefits of Horseradish

There are numerous benefits of horseradish. It can be used as a natural treatment against rheumatic disorders and as it is rich in glucosinolates, consuming horseradish regularly reduces the risk of cancer and prevents the growth of tumors. It is also used for reducing swelling and inflammation of the joints of the body as horseradish has the ability to widen the capillaries of the blood vessels when applied on the skin. This in turn increases the blood circulation, and helps to eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Horseradish is also used as an effective natural remedy to treat body ache and muscle pain. Freshly grated horseradish is placed inside a muslin cloth and applied on the affected area to get immediate relief. Due to the presence of volatile oil, horseradish is used for relieving coughs, bronchitis, sinus infections and other respiratory diseases.

Horseradish Recipes

There are many recipes that you can make with horseradish and here are two basic ones that you can readily prepare at home.

Horseradish with Vinegar

  • 1 cup horseradish roots, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup white vinegar

In an electric food processor, blend the horseradish, sugar, salt and vinegar until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Take care to keep your face away from the processor as the horseradish has a very strong and pungent odor. Store it in a glass jar and keep it in the refrigerator. This mixture can be stored up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Horseradish Sauce

  • ¼ cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon horseradish puree
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons spring onions, chopped

In a small glass bowl mix all the ingredients together until they are well combined. You can use this horseradish sauce to spice up a roast rack of lamb or it can also be used as a spread for sandwiches.

So, this was all about the horseradish and how it can be used. Although you can buy bottled version of horseradish that is steeped in vinegar, it is very easy to make them at home. As horseradish is quite pungent, a little goes a long way in spicing up any dish.