Garden and Orchard - Preserving the Harvest

Harvesting and Using Horseradish

horseradish sauce
Homemade horseradish sauce is much stronger than store-bought!

Homemade Horseradish Sauce

Having your own horseradish plants is a great way to save a little money and spice up your meals. Homemade horseradish is much stronger than storebought, so a little will go a long way. I like having extras in the freezer to thaw and use in the winter on roasts, ham, and burgers.

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horseradish roots
I always have trouble getting the whole root.

How to Harvest Horseradish

The best time to harvest horseradish is in the spring before the leaves start to grow, or in the fall when the weather cools down. During the summer the roots get rather woody and tough. Be sure to dig down deep with a shovel to get as much of the root as you can. These plants have very long taproots and I never get them all!

Peel the roots and chop them into chunks.

How to Prepare Horseradish Sauce

Rinse the roots off and trim away the leaves before you bring them into the house. Open a window before you start working with these pungent roots. If you aren’t careful, the fumes will cause more tears than a bushel of onions!

Peel the roots and chop them into chunks. You may grate the root with a hand grater or whiz them through a blender or food processor. I put about a cup of roots in my blender and add enough white vinegar to cover them. Once these are processed very fine, I add a few more chunks and run the blender again. Add vinegar as the mixture becomes thick to make it easier on your blender. Blend in a small amount of lemon juice to help prevent browning.

horseradish sauce
Store your fresh horseradish sauce in a glass jar in your refrigerator.

Hoe to Store Horseradish Sauce

Store your fresh horseradish sauce in a glass jar in your refrigerator. I’ve read that you should use it up in 3 or 4 weeks so put the extra sauce in your freezer.

You may also clean the horseradish roots and store them in a jar of vinegar in your refrigerator. Pull the root out, chop some off, and make enough sauce to last a month. Keeping the root in the vinegar will retain its pungency. I think that a nice cold root cellar would be another great way to store your horseradish roots. Keep the roots in cold, damp sand at 33 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit until ready to use.

You might also like to try this recipe for Homemade Lacto-Fermented Horseradish.

How to Use Horseradish

Spread this pungent sauce on sandwiches, burgers, roasts, and chops. Make your own creamy horseradish sauce by draining the vinegar off a tablespoon or two and mixing it into mayonnaise. I also like using a little in soups and stews for extra zing. Be creative! Just don’t overdo it, especially if someone in your family isn’t particularly fond of this zesty root. (Ahem…not that I know anyone like that.)


This Stuff is Good for You Too!

Horseradish is reputed to have antibiotic and diuretic properties. It will also help to break up and expel mucus from your lungs and sinuses. Mix some with honey and take by small spoonfuls to replace cough drops.

This plant is easy to grow in a corner of your yard. Be sure to plant it where it won’t take over your garden. Having this old-fashioned perennial vegetable on hand is sure to warm up your winter meals and chase away the nasty cold bugs!

young horseradish leaves
Young horseradish leaves and zest to salads

Harvest Horseradish Greens in Spring

You can also harvest the young tender leaves early in the spring to add to salads and sauteed greens. They have a very zesty flavor, mildly reminiscent of the root, so try a little before you heap them up on your plate! Don’t use the older leaves as they contain compounds that could upset your stomach.

Do you have any special tips for preparing, storing, or using horseradish root? What is your favorite way to use horseradish? Leave a Comment!

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9 Comments on “Harvesting and Using Horseradish

  1. Thanks for this informative post. We just planted a horseradish plant this spring. I have some seeds to plant next spring. Hoping for a good harvest from our current one and from those future seedlings when they are big enough to harvest.
    I read your blog and follow it on facebook. Very informative. Thank you.
    I have recently started a blog about homesteading at:
    I hope you can take a break and check it out.
    Brenda at Southern Urban Homesteader

    1. Hi Vicky,
      That’s great! If the plants look a little small, you may want to wait until next year to dig some. When I first planted mine I only dug one small root the first year and then after that I had all I wanted!

      You can also make some really yummy creamy horseradish sauce with mayo…I should post that sometime! 😉

  2. We are very lucky! Horseradish grows wild all around us so I’m off with my spade to dig some up!

    1. That is wonderful, Beatrice! I know that it often grows around abandoned homesteads and it spreads quite readily. My grandparents had it growing next to their well house and it was part of fall to smell the roots as they were grating them up. I’m reminded of them every time I use my home made sauce. 🙂

      Enjoy the wild freebies!

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