Harvesting and Using Horseradish

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

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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I always have trouble getting the whole root.
I always have trouble getting the whole root.

Harvesting 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 into chunks.
Peel the roots and chop into chunks.

Preparing Horseradish

Rinse the roots off and trim away the leaves before you bring them in 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 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.

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

Storing 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.

Using 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!

Free Greens in Spring, Too!

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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