What is Horseradish?

Species: Armoracia rusticana; family (Cruciferae/Brassicaceae)

Common Names: German Mustard.

Horseradish is a European plant of the cabbage family (Brassicaceae) with large green leaves and a large cylindrical, edible root, used as a condiment.. The root has a light brown skin (when freshly harvested) and a white flesh.

The whole root is not pungent but once it’s bruised by cutting or grating certain enzymes and chemicals are released that make it pungent.

The enzyme is called myrosinase and it breaks down two compounds, sinigrin and gluconasturtiin into a compound called allyl isothiocyanate, which irritates the eyes, mucuos membranes and sinuses, so be careful when grating or blitzing horseradish in a blender. (WIKI)

When allyl isothiocyanate is exposed to air or heat it oxidizes and gradually looses its pungency, eventually darkening in colour and developing an unpleasantly bitter taste. To avoid this, freshly grated horseradish should be stored in vinegar as soon as possible. Allyl isothiocyanate is also responsible for pungency in mustard.

By Anna reg [CC BY-SA 3.0]

What is prepared horseradish?

To use horseradish roots, they have to be grated, finely shredded or crushed and mixed with vinegar to give them a longer shelf life and stop them from oxidizing. This preparation is referred to as prepared mustard and is usually seasoned with salt. Some people also call it pickled horseradish.

You can either prepare horseradish by yourself or buy bottled prepared horseradish in the supermarket in the cold section near sauerkraut and potato salad. Freshly prepared horseradish is more pungent than commercial preparations.  (see this recipe).

Grated beetroot or beetroot juice can be added to prepared horseradish to to produce what we call Red Horseradish or Prepared Horseradish and Beets . The beetroot gives it a sweet taste. (see this product)

Please note that once horseradish is prepared it will gradually lose its pungency, so it should be stored in an airtight container and used as soon as possible to get maximum flavour.

What is horseradish sauce?

Grated horseradish or horseradish powder can be combined with mayonnaise or or several ingredients to give what we call “horseradish sauce” which is usually bought in the supermarkets. These types of sauces are usually very high in fat and calories. Below are two examples of store-bought horseradish sauces (Arby’s and Lynch’s)

1. Arby’s Horsey Sauce

1 teaspoon (5g) of the famous Arby’s Horsey Sauce has 20 calories (15 from fat) and the following ingredients: Soya Bean Oil, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Modified Cornstarch, Egg Yolks, Salt, Mustard Flour, Horseradish Powder, Artificial Flavour, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect flavour). It should be refrigerated after opening. (see Arby’s Horsey Sauce)

2. Lynch’s Creamy Horseradish Sauce

Here are ingredients in Lynch’s Creamy Horseradish Sauce: Horseradish (horseradish, water, white vinegar), water, sugar, glucose, vinegar, modified corn starch, canola oil, coconut oil, corn syrup solids, salt, mustard, concentrated lemon juice, colour, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, sodium caseinate (milk), dipotassium phosphate, mono & diglycerides (soy), silicon dioxide, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, spice extractive. (see Lynch’s Horseradish Sauce)

Culinary Use of Horseradish

The pungent horseradish root compliments meat, poultry and vegetables. It is commonly grated, mixed with lemon or vinegar and eaten raw, as a condiment, although ketchup and mustard is more widely used.

Grated horseradish can be mixed with yoghurt and apple sauce and used to serve meat.

Prepared horseradish can be mixed with vinegar, lemon juice and grated apple and used to serve steak (see this recipe)

In the UK, horseradish sauce is prepared at home by finely grating the root and mixing it with whipped double or heavy cream. This sauce is traditionally eaten with roast beef and can be stored int he fridge for two weeks. (see this recipe and this recipe)

In Germany horseradish sauce is served with beef and sausages

How to Prepare the root

Scrub the roots and peel the outer skin before grating. Watch out for the pungent aroma that will permeate your kitchen as you grate the root especially if it’s still very fresh. Use as per your recipe.

How to Buy Horseradish

Choose firm robust roots without spots or cuts.

Avoid limp roots that have sat on the shelf for lengthy period of time.

Storage: store the root in plastic bag in the fridge crisper.

Availability: Fresh roots are mostly available in spring.


Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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