Horseradish root is very easy to grow but sometimes disregarded because, once you plant it, it tends to take over. It spreads pretty quickly and is difficult to get rid of. We planted about five horseradish crowns that we were gifted from a friend years ago. It takes a couple years for the roots to establish and for it to be harvestable, but over the years I’ve been able to expand our growing areas to three spots.
With three horseradish gardens, I’m able to always harvest some from one or two gardens, while allowing for the other(s) to take the year off to mature.
I really enjoy fresh prepared horseradish. I love stirring it into sour cream to make a sauce for steak or prime rib, or I’ll mix it into mayo for a zippy sandwich spread. I also use prepared horseradish to make cocktail sauce for shrimp, and of course I mix it into my bloody Mary for an extra kick.
Before I grew it myself, I bought horseradish from a local farmer. When I started growing my own, my farmer friend gave me a great tip about harvesting. He told me to wait until the first frost to harvest because it makes the root even spicier. So now I wait until we’ve had at least one kill frost before I dig it up, but I don’t wait too long. Otherwise the ground begins to freeze, which makes an otherwise tedious task even more difficult.
If you don’t grow your own horseradish, you can likely find fresh root at a local co-op or grocery store. If you can’t find the root in whole form, you’ll probably be able to find the prepared horseradish condiment in the cooler section of your grocer.
I have a recipe for making freshly prepared horseradish in my cookbook WECK Small-Batch Preserving. It’s a more traditional way of preparing it, which uses salt and vinegar. But today I am sharing a recipe for fermented horseradish root.
Yield: 1 cup (8 ounce) jar
- 1 cup fresh horseradish root, cubed
- 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 cup water
Once you begin cutting into horseradish, the oils in the root become exposed to the air, and it will begin to burn your eyes. Keep that in mind as you decide where to make this recipe. Outside is the best option if you are able.
Wash, peel and cube horseradish. I find a potato peeler is the best tool for peeling.
Add cubed horseradish to a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Add salt and water, and blend again until you’ve reached a smooth consistency.
Transfer the blended horseradish to a clean canning jar. Use a spatula or spoon to push down all the pieces so that none are stuck to the side of the jar.
Wipe the rim of the jar and place on the canning lid. Tightly screw on the ring.
Ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for at least one week. Once a day, remove the lid, stir the fermented horseradish and pat it back down and re-tighten on the lid.
Once the ferment has reached your ideal flavor, transfer the jar of fermented horseradish to the refrigerator. The spice of the ferment will dissipate within a couple weeks, therefore I try to use it up within two to three weeks. It will, however, safely stay edible in your refrigerator for months.
If you’d prefer to use vinegar, substitute the water for organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother). For more of a punch, allow the horseradish to be exposed to air for at least five minutes before adding the vinegar (if you go that route). As soon as the vinegar is added, it stabilizes the spice.
This recipe has been adapted from Stephanie Thurow’s WECK Small-Batch Preserving with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.