Who doesn’t love fermented horseradish?
It is spicy!
It is pungent!
It’ll singe your nose hairs!
What’s not to love?
The other day we had horseradish with dinner and Cliff said to me, “Honey, you did good! I actually felt my sinuses burn…”
What? Not everyone loves horseradish like we do? Ok, so Ethan’s not a big fan either, but we’ll train him up some day.
What is Horseradish
Horseradish is a spicy, yummy root vegetable in the brassica family (cabbage, mustard, etc) that can be made into a sauce that typically accompanies things like prime rib or steak. That was the only thing I’d ever seen it accompanying until recently.
Apparently if you enjoy wasabi with your sushi, you’re probably actually eating horseradish.
Horseradish has a number of health benefits including antibacterial and anticancer properties.
That burning sensation Cliff felt in his sinuses? That is another of the benefits of horseradish. It’ll clear your sinuses in a heartbeat.
It contains calcium, potassium, folate, fiber, and a variety of micronutrients.
Why Fermented Horseradish?
Fermentation, or more specifically lactofermentation, is a process that has been around for thousands of years as a way to preserve food. This process creates wine, cheese, sauerkraut, and a whole host of your favorite foods.
Fermented foods take advantage of lactobacilli, a bacteria on most fruits and vegetables, that consumes sugars and starches and converts them to lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.
Beyond preserving the harvest, fermentation preserves the vitamins and enzymes, improves digestibility, and promotes the growth of healthy gut flora.
Fermented foods are easy and safe to make. Salt is the only required additive for fermented vegetables though whey can be added to jumptstart the process.
You can find out more about lactofermentation at the Weston A Price Foundation
or Cultures For Health.
Years ago, Cliff wanted to get some horseradish starts from his grandmother’s garden. I had never grown or cooked with horseradish so I really didn’t know what I was getting in to. We put it in a big pot because we heard it can be invasive, but it never really thrived. We couldn’t harvest it because the roots were too small.
Fast forward 8 or 9 years and we took those struggling roots and put them in the small raised bed in or veggie garden. That spring they TOOK OFF, filling the entire bed! And this year they started popping up next to the raised bed too.
Horseradish is pretty easy to grow. It is hardy in zones 2 through 9. Because it is a root, they do best in loose soil. They can grow in partial sun but do best in full sun.
The best time to harvest is after the first killing frost, when the leaves have died back. Dig up the big tap root (and even a few side roots if you wish) to use. If you leave even so much as an inch of a side root in the ground, you WILL have horseradish the following year. No worries. You can continue to harvest through the winter and into spring as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Older plants become woody and inedible so be sure to dig those main roots every couple of years.
- 1 fresh horseradish root about 10 inches long or multiple smaller roots
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup whey or starter culture
- water as needed
- 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
- Scrub horseradish root and peel with a vegetable peeler if necessary. (Larger roots have a cork-like peel).
- Chop root into pieces 1-2 inches long and add to high speed blender, like a Vitamix
- Add 1/4 cup whey (or starter culture) and salt
- Begin blending, adding just enough water for things to stay moving and get finely chopped.
- Turn on your range hood and open all the doors and windows because your eyes will be burning and you'll probably start crying.
- Pour into 1/2 pint canning jars, cover with lid, and allow to sit on the counter for up to one week.
- After fermentation is complete, stir about 2 teaspoons of vinegar into each jar and store in the refrigerator.
Using Fermented Horseradish
There are so many ways to use horseradish! I’ve gotten pretty creative over the years. We definitely use it on the typical beef dishes like prime rib or a nice steak sandwich.
You could make your own wasabi if you’re a fan of sushi.
Add mayonnaise or sour cream and make a fabulous Horseradish Cream Sauce.
It is also a popular ingredient in Fire Cider, an immune-boosting tonic popularized by Rosemary Gladstar.
It was a potato salad recipe that really opened my eyes to all the possible ways to eat horseradish. Now I ALWAYS add it to my potato salad, macaroni salad, egg salad, and deviled eggs. It doesn’t have to be HOT to add depth and flavor to a dish.