Horseradish, a long and rough tapering root is a worldwide popular ingredient used fresh or dried in the form of grates, flakes and powder. Most popularly eaten in Western Asia and Southeastern Europe, horseradish grows up to 5 feet and has a white, tapering root without any aroma. The scraped or broken root of radish exudes a smell which penetrates the nostrils and the eyes stream, irritating the senses more than onions. Horseradish has a sharp and very hot flavor. Some of the other popular names of horseradish are red cole, mountain radish, horse plant and great raifort. The root is called raifort or moutarde des Allemands in French, while it is called rafano in Italian. The Germans and Spanish call it Meerrettich and rábano picante respectively. The horseradish recipes like Horseradish butter, Wasabi, Albert sauce and English sauce are very popular.


History of Horseradish
Horseradish is a 3000 year old plant which has been famously used as an aphrodisiac for treating rheumatism. The root has also featured in the historical Jewish cuisine as a Passover seder bitter herb and as a flavorful accompaniment to seafood, beef and chicken. While the origins of horseradish are still a mystery, the medicinal values of the root during the historical times, is proven. The Egyptians have been using this wonder root since 1500 B.C. The horseradish recipes became popular in Central Europe only in the recent centuries while the Americans were introduced to the root in the 1850s.


Culinary Uses of Horseradish
Since horseradish is considered a potent gastric stimulant, it is best paired with fatty and rich foods. The most popular use of horseradish is in sauces, which are mostly prepared by grating the root and cooking it to a desired consistency by adding vinegar and sugar. One of the popular Horseradish recipes is the English sauce, which is a cream or a wine based traditional sauce eaten accompanied by spices like pepper, garlic and mustard and sometimes roasted beef. Other sauces like Albert sauce is best eaten with hot braised beef, sausages, cheese, ham, chicken, fishes like smoked trout and cold egg dishes. Horseradish is also prepared into butter, condiment pastes and dips. Wasabi horseradish or Japanese horseradish is used for filling sushi rolls.


Popular Horseradish Recipes
The popular horseradish recipes are mainly sauces, dips and condiments pastes. Some of the best known horseradish recipes are Albert sauce, English sauce and Horseradish party dip. Shrimp cocktail is another of those favorite Horseradish recipes, which uses a sauce made from this root. Horseradish butter is a popular recipe eaten with grilled meat and fish.


Cuisines Using Horseradish
Horseradish condiment, prepared with cream and vinegar, is popularly used in European cuisine. Tewkesbury mustard is another popular recipe in the European cuisine, mainly in U.K. In the American cuisine, horseradish sauces and salad dressings are more common.


Preferable Cooking Methods for Horseradish
Horseradish is mainly cooked into sauces and dips by grating the root and mixing it with other spices. Even in soups and other horseradish recipes, the root is grated and soaked in vinegar before being cooked.


Nutritive Value of Horseradish
Horseradish is rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium and it also contains volatile oils like the popular mustard oil. The root contains more vitamin C than lemon or orange. Because of its medicinal properties, it is widely used as a gastric stimulant, rubefacient, diaphoretic, diuretic, antiseptic, anti-microbial agent and expectorant.


Special Occasion Horseradish Recipes
Horseradish cream is traditionally served with the Sunday roast in United Kingdom. Horseradish is also popularly eaten during the Christian Easter in European countries and is also eaten as a bitter herb during the Jewish Passover.


Horseradish Using and Storing Tips
Before grating horseradish at home, it should be thoroughly washed, trimmed and scraped. The flavorless core of the root should be discarded. The whole root can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks. However, grated horseradish must be kept in vinegar or frozen in a sealed container. For making Horseradish powder, only fully flavored roots should be used.


Ingredients Related to Horseradish
Wasabi is the Japanese horseradish or the tuber of Wasabia japonica herb, which is a pale green powder.


Non- Food Uses of Horseradish
Horseradish peroxidase enzyme, found in the Horseradish root, is used in antibody detection in the molecular biology labs. The root has several other uses in the various fields of biochemical research like immunohistochemistry labeling for detecting cancer.


Horseradish Trivia
1. Bottled horseradish was introduced in the market in 1860, making it one of the first amongst convenience foods.
2. In South America, the root is rubbed on forehead for relieving headaches.
3. The horseradish was earlier known as ‘stingnose’ and ‘redcole’ in U.S and England respectively.
4. Al Weider entered the Guinness Book of World Records by shooting up a horseradish root to a height of 80.5 feet.
5. The best known fan of this edible root is Dagwood Bumstead from the popular comic strip “Blondie”, who eats the root regularly.