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Add Both Zest and Spice to Your Life by Growing Horseradish



Many of those who grow their own vegetables will include a clump of horseradish, perhaps without knowing exactly what to do with it!

You might have noticed "horseradish sauce" preserved in jars to be served as an accompaniment with roast beef but that might be all. 

You could also be surprised to read that the horseradish is a strong and beneficial plant with some gardeners pointing out that it can be a good friend both to you AND your garden.

Let's find out more about the horseradish, and its benefits... 

The horseradish is part of the brassicaceae family (related to mustards and cabbage). It is a perennial plant generally grown for its roots which come with flavor for adding to meals and sauces.  While the root is technically a vegetable, it is often classified as a herb because of its culinary uses.  The leaves can be used too for less pungent flavors.  You can keep preserved horseradish for up to four months in your refrigerator while frozen horseradish can be kept for six months.

There are two horseradish varieties - common and bohemian

Bohemian horseradish leaves are thinner and smooth and are said to be more disease resistant while common horseradish has large, crinkled leaves with a stronger taste.

  • Horseradish is extremely easy to grow, doing well in full sun and thriving in most climates.  It has an ‘invasive’ reputation but is not difficult to contain and is easiest to do if planted in containers or raised beds. Once planted, it can take as little as four months before it is ready to harvest, but it is best left to establish for a season or two before harvesting.  You only need one root for a lifetime supply.
  • Its spicy flavor is released as soon as you cut into or grind the fresh roots or leaves. The punch of flavor is due to the chemical compound allyl isothiocyanate being disturbed. It interacts with the plant’s enzymes when cut, ground, or grated.
  • There are very few diseases or pests to worry about apart from an occasional aphid infection which, depending on the size of the infestation, you can easily pick off and squash them or use a water spray bottle filled with natural soap to spray the leaves.  horseradish can be susceptible to rotting and soil-borne fungal diseases but this usually only happens when watered incorrectly.  Ideally, ensure the soil around your horseradish is never waterlogged.
  • Horseradish makes a good companion plant (when its spread is controlled) as its pungent aroma repels many pests. The natural oils of the roots also reduce instances of soil-borne fungal diseases. It’s commonly paired with potatoes and various fruit trees, including apple, pear and cherry.
  • For even more anti-fungal benefits, you can mince the horseradish root and mix it with water to form an anti-fungal spray. Use this spray to fight several diseases including brown rot.
  • But beware the pungent roots may cause issues with certain vegetables.  For example, horseradish affects the taste of vegetables that are planted near them – particularly leafy vegetables and beans.
  • You can harvest your roots and leaves once the horseradish has established itself in your garden. When you’re ready, loosen the soil around the root, and make sure to pick up any pieces that break off.  You can always replant these and continue growing horseradish.

Health benefits of horseradish
The vegetable is jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients, including calcium and vitamin C.
  • The chemical compound allyl isothiocyanate holds antibacterial and antifungal properties for plants and humans, helping to fight bacterial diseases with some even advocating its use to help treat urinary tract infections.
  • Those same properties, along with the pungent smell of the roots, are known to relieve symptoms of colds and flu, even helping to reduce mucus buildup and improve overall circulation.
  • The horseradish's chemical compounds are said to inhibit the growth of suspect cells and boost your overall immunity.
  • If you suffer from blocked sinuses, grate some horseradish root and add to boiling water, along with some lemon juice and honey. Drain the tea once it steeps and and drink it regularly. 

Using horse radish in the kitchen

Preserved or fresh, add horseradish to homemade condiments and dishes while you can add the zest of the root to plain wraps and sandwiches or  mix it into creams, dips and sauces.

  • Another idea is to gather a few roots and make your own homemade mock wasabi to serve with sushi.  Blend up some fresh horseradish with a bit of mustard, tint with green food coloring and it will taste just like wasabi. planted roots or angled root cuttings. Begin planting your roots or cuttings in late fall or early spring. Space them about 2 feet apart – they will spread beyond soon enough. Plant either upright or at a 45-degree angle with a couple of inches of soil covering the root. 
A few more suggestions
Scrub and dry your horseradish roots before bagging and placing them in the fridge. Only grate and use the horseradish when you need it to keep it as fresh as possible.
  • To make horseradish sauce, peel and cut the roots into chunks and blend them up. Toss the sauce into a jar and store it in the fridge!
  • You can even preserve grated horseradish in lemon juice or vinegar but be aware that the vinegar can interfere with the flavor.
  • For a salad dressing, grate some horseradish before mixing with a little dijon mustard, parsley, minced shallots as well as lemon juice and olive oil. For an extra bite, toss in some fresh horseradish leaves.


Effect of two-step fermentation with lactic acid bacteria and Saccharomyces cerevisiae on key chemical properties, molecular structure and flavor characteristics of horseradish sauce - ScienceDirect

Highly selective and sensitive detection of cadmium ions by horseradish peroxidase enzyme inhibition using a colorimetric microplate reader and smartphone paper-based analytical device - ScienceDirect