Horseradish is being hailed as the 2011 Herb of the Year

Horseradish leaves - Armoracia rusticanaArmoracia rusticana Horseradish, a member of the mustard family, is best known today as a condiment, but it originated in antiquity and was recorded as early as 1500 BC. Horseradish became known in Medieval Northeastern Europe and western Asia as a valued medicinal herb used as a mild antibiotic and diuretic.

Horseradish was more commonly used medicinally than as a condiment for centuries, largely because of its powerful flavor. It wasn’t until the 1600s in England that the ground root of the horseradish, mixed with vinegar, was accepted in cooking; even then, it was considered too harsh for general use.

It did eventually catch on and become a staple, however, in the U.S. The use of horseradish sauce as a condiment is associated with roast beef. It is also widely used in Russian cooking and in the Middle East as a sliced and pickled snack. Horseradish leaves can be added to salads.

Horseradish - plant type

Horseradish is a hardy perennial which grows between 18 and 30 inches tall, although it has been reported as tall as five feet in some areas around the world. Blooming in mid-summer, horseradish produces profuse bunches of small white flowers above long, vertical, glossy green leaves.

Best soil type and pH for growing horseradish.

Rich, moist, heavy soil with a pH of 6.8 is best for growing horseradish.

Best growing zones for growing horseradish

USDA Gardening Zones: 2-9

growing horseradish - horseradish cultivation

Horseradish can be grown as an annual, which is the preference when horseradish is to be used as a culinary herb or medicinal herb.

Knowing when and how to harvest horseradish is simple to learn.

After the horseradish leaves begin to brown and die back following the first frost in the autumn, the horseradish root can be dug and divided.

When the main horseradish root is harvested, one or more of the smaller offshoots of the main root should be replanted to produce next year's crop.

Older plants should be dug and discarded or the roots divided to start new horseradish plants.

Horseradish left undisturbed in the garden spreads via underground shoots and can become invasive.  Older horseradish root left in the ground will become woody, after which they are no longer useful as a culinary herb.

Herbal and medicinal uses of horseradish and other horseradish cures

Horseradish Root Harvest

Fresh horseradish root has been used medicinally by herbalists as a diuretic in treating kidney conditions involving excess water retention. Traditionally, they would mix fresh, chopped horseradish root with mustard seed and boiling water; steep and strain it.

NOTE: Overuse of Horseradish in this manner may lead to blistering of the skin, and horseradish should not be used by those with low thyroid function.

creamed horseradish and other Horseradish sauce recipes

Horseradish Cream Sauce: The following is a quick and easy horseradish sauce that goes well with a Beef Tenderloin or Beef Rib Roast.

  1. Whisk 1/2 cup of heavy cream for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it thickens but does not yet hold peaks.

  2. Gently fold in 1/2 cup of prepared horseradish, the salt and pepper.

  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate 1/2 hour or more before serving.

Basic Shrimp Cocktail Sauce: This is a great Cocktail Sauce in which to dip shrimp, crab or any other food requiring a tangy cocktail sauce.

  1. Add 3/4 cup tomato catsup, 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, a dash of lemon juice and a shake of celery salt to a small mixing bowl.

  2. Whisk together the ingredients.

  3. Chill and serve for a delicious Horseradish Cocktail Sauce!