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Horseradish is a perennial herb with a murky past. Although its wild progenitors are unknown, this sterile cultigen is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region; prehistoric people appear to have taken horseradish north to Scandinavia from whence the Vikings (it is thought) re-introduced it southwards to become a beloved condiment throughout Europe.

Cultivation: Plant in winter. Dig a hole in an out-of-the-way part of the garden, and line the hole with sheet metal, corrugated iron, or some such material. Alternatively, build your “cage” above ground for improved drainage. Do not plant horseradish directly into the open garden, it spreads! Fill your “cage” with rich soil (I use straight compost from the compost heap). Plant your roots, or cut them and plant only the top 4 -10 cm of them (leaving the growth-buds intact), and water-in thoroughly. Horseradish generally does not need additional watering, even in our dry summers. Harvest in winter, although you can “bandicoot” a bit through the growing season if/or as required.

Salad   Finely chop or shred the very young leaves through a green salad.

Preserved    Wash and peel the roots, and grate or mince immediately. Pack into 500ml jars. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon of sugar (sugar is optional but advised), one small chili, and cover with white vinegar. Use in horseradish sauce when the fresh roots are not convenient/available, and as an ingredient in marinades for meats.

Horseradish Sauce    Mix together 1 dessert-spoon of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste, and 4 heaped tablespoons of fresh-grated or preserved horse radish. Whip 300 ml of cream until stiff, and incorporate the other ingredients. Traditionally served with roast beef, horseradish sauce is good with most meats, especially cold meats, and some fish dishes, particularly smoked salmon.

Horseradish notes from around the world

Oscar, Hawaii  I just cut some pieces of root I bought in the store and they all sprouted and so far are growing great.  Interesting to see if it will really make a good root here.  

Ariel, Israel    It is a hell of a job to wash the root as it grows well in clayish well deep ploughed soil with irrigation. Propagation material will affect the final size of the root, thus it is important to keep from one year to another the initial good well developed root for a better root size. 

Yokahu  It’s a persistent strong plant but roots did not form well in the tropics and lacked strong pungency.

Paul Recher    Use the leaves to wrap fish when you cook fish or on a hamburger roll.