GROWING HORSERADISH

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TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE…

Horseradish is a perennial herb which will grow in nearly any soil in any climate.  It prefers a deep, rich, moist loam in sun but will grow in shade and all but the lightest sand or heaviest clay soil.

  • Planting: Plant roots in early spring, in a permanent location.  Dig a trench 6”-8” deep; use roots (sets) which are 5”-12” long and the diameter of a pencil.  Lay them horizontally in the trench, with the large end (head) slightly elevated and placed 2” below the surface of the soil.  

    • Provide adequate water during the growing season, to allow the roots to reach their full size.  Fertilize, after leaves appear, with a balanced fertilizer. Avoid excessive nitrogen.

    • Plants grow to a height of 3’, with dark green, oval leaves.  Cream-colored flowers appear in mid-summer. Some of the young leaves may be harvested in the spring, and sliced thinly into salads.

    • Since larger roots are easier to peel and prepare than small ones, horseradish is often treated as an annual and replanted each year.  If doing so, trim lateral roots every 6 weeks (beginning when the plant reaches 12” tall). Carefully remove the soil around the roots, snip off any exposed lateral roots and replace soil around the taproot.  In this way, small roots are discouraged and energy is directed into the taproot (which is harvested in the late fall or early spring).

    • Any small pieces of root left in the soil will develop into new plants, or lateral roots may be harvested for that purpose. Do not allow roots to stay in the ground more than 2 seasons; they become woody and tough.

  • Storing Roots: Harvest roots late in the fall, after a frost, for best storage.  Allow them to dry, then pack roots in boxes between layers of moist sand or sawdust.  Keep dark and cool (32–40 F). Roots will keep this way for 6-12 months. Or, wash and refrigerate roots.

  • To Process: Work in a well-ventilated area! Clean, peel and dice root pieces, and grind in a blender or food processor.  Fill blender half full of prepared root pieces, add a small amount of water and ice, and grind to desired consistency. Grating causes the heat-building enzyme activity; the finer the grating, the hotter the sauce! Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of white vinegar and ½ teaspoon of salt.  Adding it immediately will make a milder sauce and waiting a few minutes will make the sauce hotter. Put in clean jars and seal. Store in refrigerator (up to 6 weeks) or freezer (up to 6 months).