Horseradish is a vegetable native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is in the same plant family as mustard, broccoli, cabbage, and wasabi. This coarse perennial plant with the pungent root has been grown in gardens since antiquity. It is mentioned in ancient Greek mythology as being worth its weight in gold. Horseradish has been revered medicinally in home remedies and in culinary dishes for centuries. Although the leaves are edible, the roots of the plant are most commonly used around the world today for its health benefits and in foods.
So what does this unsung hero in the cruciferous vegetable family offer in the way of health? It too is a highly nutritious vegetable that provides calcium, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B2. It has powerful antioxidant and natural antibiotic properties that work to eliminate toxins and infection, and to relieve sinus discomfort and respiratory illness. To relieve a persistent cough or hoarseness, herbalists mix a horseradish infusion with honey. A University of Illinois anticancer study involving the potential of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention has found that horseradish contains more than 10 times the amount of cancer preventing glucosinolates than broccoli.
Horseradish is a traditional Central and Eastern European food served for centuries in Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Southern Germany, Serbia, Croatia, and in various regions of Italy, before it was introduced to England and the Western hemisphere. According to Susan R. Friedland, author of The Passover Table, grated horseradish is part of the Jewish Seder plate, served with gefilte fish (poached fish cakes) and brisket during the week of Passover. Fresh horseradish is peeled and grated and served either plain, or mixed with white vinegar, salt and sugar. In Poland, a red horseradish variation is made by adding beets or beet juice. In Southern Germany, horseradish is served in a lingonberry dip at traditional wedding dinners with cooked beef.
However you choose to use horseradish, the fresh horseradish root must be peeled and grated. When working with fresh horseradish, it causes the eyes to tear more so than onions, so you may want to grate in a blender or food processor, after peeling to avoid the vapors. Cover the grated horseradish with vinegar and store in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
Horseradish root can be purchased in the produce section of major grocery stores. Prepared horseradish is available in most grocery stores, but may not be as tasty or spicy as fresh prepared. It is an ingredient in commercially bottled spicy mustards and mayonnaise, and gives cocktail sauce its tangy flavor. Horseradish also gives a spicy bite to Bloody Mary cocktails. Prepared horseradish is served with fresh oysters on the half shell, or in a sauce with roast beef, fish or lamb.
Horseradish Mayonnaise (Blender Recipe)
Try this tasty spread on roast beef, brisket or barbecue sandwiches. Mix with boiled eggs for a zesty, egg salad.
Yields: 1 cup +
1 large pastured egg
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ tablespoon ground mustard, firmly packed
1 tablespoon prepared or fresh grated horseradish
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste, opt.
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Crack the egg into a blender and add the white wine vinegar. Secure lid and blend briefly to whip the egg. Add the remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the blender and secure lid. Start blender on low and slowly increase variable 10 and then to high speed, if using a Vitamix. While blender is operating, remove the lid cap and slowly pour in the remaining olive oil. Stop the machine as soon all the olive oil is incorporated. The mixture should be the consistency of mayonnaise. (See photo above.) Transfer to a glass container with lid and store in the refrigerator. Use within 3 or 4 weeks.
Article and Recipe by Deborah Tukua.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by “Wildman” Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean, Hearst Books, 1994.
Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs by Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton, Editors, Rodale Press, 1998.
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