Horseradish is a vegetable native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is in the same plant family as mustard, broccoli, cabbage, and wasabi. This coarse perennial plant with the pungent root has been grown in gardens since antiquity. It is mentioned in ancient Greek mythology as being worth its weight in gold. Horseradish has been revered medicinally in home remedies and in culinary dishes for centuries. Although the leaves are edible, the roots of the plant are most commonly used around the world today for their health benefits and the pungent spice they add to foods.
So what does this unsung hero in the cruciferous vegetable family offer in the way of health? It too is a highly nutritious vegetable that provides calcium, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B2. It has powerful antioxidant and natural antibiotic properties that work to eliminate toxins and infection, and to relieve sinus discomfort and respiratory illness. To relieve a persistent cough or hoarseness, herbalists mix a horseradish infusion with honey. A University of Illinois anticancer study involving the potential of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention has found that horseradish contains more than 10 times the amount of cancer preventing glucosinolates than broccoli. A quarter cup serving contains a mere 29 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein, and less than a half a gram of fat.
Horseradish is a traditional Central and Eastern European food served for centuries in Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Southern Germany, Serbia, Croatia, and in various regions of Italy, before it was introduced to England and the Western hemisphere.
Fresh horseradish is peeled and grated and served either plain, or mixed with white vinegar, salt and sugar. In Poland, a red horseradish variation is made by adding beets or beet juice. In Southern Germany, horseradish is served in a lingonberry dip at traditional wedding dinners with cooked beef.
However you choose to use horseradish, the fresh horseradish root must be peeled and grated. When working with fresh horseradish, it can cause the eyes to tear so you may want to grate in a blender or food processor to avoid the vapors. Cover the grated horseradish with a little vinegar and store in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
You can buy horseradish root in most specialty or health food supermarkets. Prepared horseradish is widely available in grocery stores, but may not be as tasty or spicy as freshly grated. It is an ingredient in commercially bottled spicy mustards and mayonnaise, and gives cocktail sauce its tangy flavor. Horseradish also gives a spicy bite to Bloody Mary cocktails. Prepared horseradish can also be served with fresh oysters on the half shell, or in a sauce with roast beef, fish or lamb. Try grating some in with your favorite coleslaw recipe for added zing!
A great spread for roast beef, brisket or barbecue sandwiches, or with hard-boiled eggs for a zesty egg salad!
Horseradish Mayonnaise (Blender Recipe)
Yields: 1 cup +
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ tablespoon ground mustard, firmly packed
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste, optional
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Crack the egg into a blender and add the white wine vinegar. Secure lid and blend briefly to whip the egg. Add the remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the blender and secure lid. Start blender on low and slowly increase variable 10 and then to high speed, if using a Vitamix. While blender is operating, slowly pour the remaining olive oil through the lid cap. Stop the machine as soon all the olive oil is incorporated. The mixture should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Transfer to a glass container with lid and store in the refrigerator. Use within 3 or 4 weeks.