Horseradish, a love story.
Warning: This post may make you cry.
It was a perfect Saturday. Finally, the weather gave us Bay Area folks a break from soggy skies and showed us some sun! My roommate and I cruised down to the Ferry Building farmer’s market to dose up on Vitamin D and free samples. As I shoved citrus slices and falafel bits into my mouth, I knew life could not get any better. And then I saw it… A pile of unassuming, light brown, tapered roots. In my gut I knew what it was, but I needed to be sure. The vendor confirmed I was confronted with horseradish, handing me my perfect match. I felt my body lift, and head spin with the possibilities of our future together. This 12 inch, furry root was exactly what I was looking for- and I didn’t even know I was looking! With my roommate as my witness, and the vendor as our officiant, horseradish and I started a beautiful life together.
I knew it was love when I could not take my mind off my new culinary companion. My friends were growing tired of me obsessing over the details of our chance encounter and future plans. But I felt guilty that I could not give my root the attention it deserved- having to sit patiently until I had time to tend to our relationship.
Today, I found the time. I showed my root some love and took our relationship to the next level: Prepared Horseradish. As I peeled away its outer layer, revealing its volatile and complex core, I began to cry. Tears of sadness and joy. Realizing that the honeymoon phase was over, but happy that I was finally getting to know this root on a deeper level. Now, it’s going on a 3-day retreat to my pantry to “find” itself. The anticipation is driving me crazy. But you know what they say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m confident that this process will allow the horseradish to mature, and truly become its best self.
I planned a dinner party to welcome it back with my friends Fennel and Salmon. In a couple weeks I’m bringing it to a potluck with Deviled Eggs. Maybe one day I can introduce it to my family with Applesauce and Beef. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I can really see a serious future for me and my flame, horseradish.
How to make Prepared Horseradish
2 12-inch horseradish root, peeled and chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2-4 tbsp water, as needed
1 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
Pulse horseradish and sea salt in food processor, slowly adding water one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Stir in apple cider vinegar and transfer to sterile glass jar. Store away from sunlight at room temperature for about 3-5 days to ferment. The prepared horseradish should keep in the refrigerator for about 6-8 weeks.
"The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold."
- Oracle of Delphi
Family - Horseradish is part of the brassica family, closely related to mustard and radish, while distant to kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. It is native to eastern Europe, but has roots in Egypt.
Health Benefits - The white flesh holds the chemical allylisothiocyanate, which gives its pungent bite and antibacterial properties. Horseradish acts as a cholagogue, stimulating the gallbladder to produce bile and improving digestion. It is high in vitamin C and folate, which is further enhanced through lactic acid fermentation.
Scientific Use - The enzyme horseradish peridoxidase (HRP) has been used in western medicine as an indicator for infection, hormone imbalance, and blood glucose levels. It is currently being tested to treat contaminated water and soil from amines and phenols.
The Real Deal - Although it may make you cry, go ahead and experiment with homemade prepared horseradish. It will be a tasty and nourishing accompaniment to your favorite dishes. If purchasing from a store, be careful that the ingredients do not contain unnecessary additives like preservatives, coloring, and high fructose corn syrup.