by Tina Sams
Jan/Feb '11 issue, The Essential Herbal Magazine
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is a member of the mustard ( Brassicaceae ) family, known for the sharp taste that immediately opens our sinuses when eaten. It has been cultivated for at least 2000 years, but the exact origin is not known. Delicious on meats, vegetables, potatoes, and seafood, it is rarely used as an everyday food. That may change a bit this year, as the Int’l Herb Association has chosen Horseradish to star as herb of the year in 2011. More than any herb they’ve chosen in the past, many of us have a lot to learn about Horseradish.
We are so spoiled here! I wracked my brain trying to come up with a new way to approach this Herb of the Year, and literally smacked my forehead when it dawned on me that some of the best Horseradish in the world is grated and sold fresh right here at our amazing Central Market 3 days a week. Let me tell you a little about “our” market.
One thing that almost all Lancaster Countians have in common is our immense pride in the Lancaster Central Market. In 1730, Alexander Hamilton included it in the original plan of the city, and conveyed personal property to the City of Lancaster in a deal that ensured that the market would always be there. It has run continuously from that time, with a building being constructed first around 1757, and then being remodeled into our outstandingly beautiful current market house in 1889.
Central Market continues to be the jewel in the crown of the city. On market days (Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday), the city teems with shoppers. It is a real testament to the vision of Alexander Hamilton that this one vibrant part of our heritage has been the thing that kept our town from suffering the fate of so many similar towns.
Michael J. Long is the 4th generation of Longs at the helm of Long’s Horseradish.
The family has held a stand at Central Market since 1930, having started the business around 1906. It was originally started by the Goldbach family (Michael’s father’s maternal family), changing over to Long’s with Michael’s father.
Throughout all those years, the Horseradish stand has been there (Tuesdays and Fridays only). They always have a fan blowing the pungent scent of the roots over the market house crowd as a utilitarian iron grinding machine is put to service throughout the day. That scent to me IS the smell of the market house, and I’m certain that the beams are infused with it. As the roots are ground, they are periodically added to a kettle, covered with vinegar, and the lid is replaced on the kettle immediately. The hood that covers the grinder must retain a lot of the scent, but Michael told me that many people have gotten teary eyed in front of the fan.
H.J. Heinz is probably the oldest continually operating Horseradish processor in the country. Since Horseradish is a seasonal business, a second income was generally needed to tide families over during the off months. Heinz went with tomatoes while the Goldbach/Longs were tinsmiths in the early days, and as transportation and refrigeration improved it became a year-round occupation.
While the Longs do grow Horseradish for personal use, what is used for production is mainly from the Mississippi River Valley states, and they are beautiful, fleshy white roots. As I asked that question, I already knew the answer. We were asked that all the time when we had an herb shop, but with success comes the inability to do both the growing and the business end, so it becomes necessary to rely on growers.
I’ve only ever known good, fresh Horseradish – except the rare “off-brand” cocktail sauce that people unknowingly serve, or the even rarer sauce (if you can seriously call it that) served with a fast-food roast beef sandwich. We are so privileged to expect the best because it is the only thing we know here! The Horseradish will have been ground between 2 and 4 hours earlier if purchased at market, but Long’s is available at grocery outlets as well. They also make a superb cocktail sauce, full of zing, and spicy mustards.
In fact, I only put it in my own garden this past summer when a good friend sent me a piece through the mail. It is so easily available I never considered growing it.
Recently, Dr. Oz talked about the three herbs we should add more often to our diets. They are: Rosemary, Saffron, and Horseradish! He added that Horseradish is very effective at helping digestion and liver detoxification. The gall bladder is stimulated to release bile when we eat Horseradish, making it a great alternative for digestive problems.
Ah, but the good doctor merely scratched the surface!
The root contains a cornucopia of vitamins and minerals. Higher in vitamin C than oranges or lemons, it also contains lots of vitamin A. Add a healthy dose of chromium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, calcium, manganese, niacin, and zinc, and we have a nutritious condiment that deserves a more revered place on the table.
The diuretic effects of Horseradish can be helpful in cases of bladder infections and kidney stones, and it also increases perspiration, which can lower fevers. It is antibiotic, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory.
It’s very hot taste comes from the glucocides sinigrin and 2-phenylethylglucosinolate. When cut, cells are crushed, enabling an enzyme called myrosinase to interact with these two substances, releasing the oil, explaining why a Horseradish root has no smell until it is cut, grated, or ground. It also contains glucosinolates thought to provide resistance to cancers. The root is considered beneficial in cases of lung infections, sinus problems, arthritis and gout.
Although there is much written in reference to using Horseradish externally (think mustard plaster), the juice can cause blistering of the skin, so caution is advised. In fact, the essential oil is classed as hazardous.
Horseradish root is a staple ingredient in the Fire Cider recipe popularized by Rosemary Gladstar, and that can be found easily on the internet.
Some other simple remedies using Horseradish:
Expectorant Syrup (also good for hoarseness)
Boil ground Horseradish root with brown sugar and a small amount of water.
Horseradish Juice is taken ¼ to ½ tsp between meals to improve sluggish digestion and decrease indigestion.
1 t freshly ground Horseradish mixed with 1 T honey and steeped in I c hot water, drunk like tea.
One cannot be “the Horseradish man” at market without gleaning lots of great tips for uses of Horseradish – as if 4 generations of passed down information weren’t enough.
Michael told me that no matter what the recipe says, ALWAYS add the horseradish to the dish last during cooking. This is backed up by my research, that emphasizes high heat kills some of the beneficial medicinal properties of the root. The only exception to this rule would be when coating a roast with Horseradish prior to putting it into the oven. In that case, the flavor will penetrate the meat and be even more delicious. A customer told him to try making gravy with the drippings from that same roast, and he assured me that it is heaven on earth.
Another surprising tip he passed along is to cut the leaves before they get to 12” high, and take out the center vein. Sauté them, or simply add them to salads for a surprisingly delicious and different flavor. And now I am glad to have planted a bit in my own garden!
CREAMY HORSERADISH SAUCE ---- 1 cup sour cream---1/4 cup prepared horseradish---1 tsp. pepper---2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce-(mix together and use with beef)
PAULA'S DEVILED EGGS-------6 hard-boiled eggs,sliced in half lengthwise---2 tbsp. mayonnaise(light or regular)1 tbsp. prepared horseradish---1 tsp.chopped sweet pickles---1 tsp. parsley--salt to taste---1/4 tsp. dry mustard--dash of paprika. Put egg yolks in bowl and mash well with fork,combine all other ingredients and mix well,fill the white halves with the mixture and garnish with parsley, pimiento, or slices of olives. ADD HORSERADISH TO YOUR FAVORITE BBQ SAUCE or CREAMY SALAD DRESSING
long's horseradish c/o michael long 2192 west ridge dr., lancaster, pa. 17603
(717)872-9343--coming in march 2011 www.longshorseradish.com
My Mom's favorite at Thanksgiving was twice baked potatoes.. and then my Sis in Law kicked it up a 'notch' with horseradish.
Twice Baked Potatoes w/ Horseradish
- bake the potatoes
- cut in half
- scoop out the insides (don't rip the skins)
- mash w/butter, milk, cheese, horseradish
- salt pepper to taste
- re stuff into potato shells
- top with pat of butter
- back in oven til golden brown (approx 30min)
Roe at sunrosearomatics.com
A goodly amount of freshly grated horseradish in a clear bottle of vodka makes a simple and most excellent "snow globe" holiday gift -- just add a big red bow. Bonus: the bloody marys get spicier with every shakeup!
I add horseradish to my beef stroganoff. My mom knew there was a difference when I made it but couldn't figure it out.
Beef( I like to cook mine with fresh garlic and Rosemary)
Sour cream- full fat
Horseradish- to taste
Why do I love Horseradish? I first fell in love with it in my late 20s when I was rescued from a lonely, alone-in-NYC-Thanksgiving, by my friend's Mother-in-Law. I was whisked out of the city to Long Island, where I discovered I could see the sky on that crisp Autumn Day. My hostess lived near the Long Island Sound so we took a long pre-feast walk along the pebbly shoreline to the place where the Sound opens to the Atlantic. The winds whipped at my face and I was chilly yet at the same time flooded with the heat of all that thrilling expanse of ocean openness. Our walk ignited our appetites, so we nearly trotted the 1/2 mile back home. Enter Horseradish. I was offered first a glass of rich California Chardonnay, then presented with a huge platter of smoked, flaky, not too salty salmon and a bowl mounded with what looked like whipping cream??! My Hostess handed me a cracker, with a hunk of the salmon and an alarmingly large dollop of whipped cream. Thinking sweet pie whipped cream, I braced myself, praying I wouldn't gag. I was glad for the wine. With no desire to be rude, I took a bite and to my delight was consumed with a heated blaze which soared from my mouth into my chest, into to my nose, and I am sure out my ears. But the taste! Sublime! I sadly don't have the exact recipe for this (she doesn't have a recipe - one of those cooks who always cooks on the fly), but it is simply a gradual folding-in of whipped cream with freshly grated horseradish and a pinch of salt. She mentioned something about lemon juice "perhaps" but I've never used it.
My devotion to horseradish was sealed about 6 years later when my son, 3 1/2 at the time experienced his first earache. It seemed to hit him out of nowhere, on a Sunday of course. His sudden wails of agony stripped me absolutely bare. I'd handled fevers, stuffy noses and coughs but this was sure to crumble the tower within. I tried onion poultice. No change. This happened at a time when we were fortunate enough to have a Homeopathic Pediatrician who was also of a certain age. I phoned his S.O.S. line and his first words were "Have Courage." Okay. Got it. Next he gave me instructions to grate some horseradish and put it in a cloth and massage it behind his ear. My dear husband drove to the gourmet market we knew would have one, while I continued to rock our son, and admittedly did some weeping myself as I sat there feeling helpless. As soon as my husband returned, I made up the warm poultice and within moments, moments of applying this poultice the wailing ceased. All over, done, fini. Whew.
Process: Take one fresh horseradish, grate approx 1 tsp. finely, and warm this a little bit by pouring a tiny amount of very hot water over it. Scoop it up and place in a small soft piece of fabric, flannel is soothing, but anything you have on hand will work. Twist the fabric, making a small ball where the horseradish is (think little lollipop) and then right away gently massage the back of the ear, just where the ear meets the neck. You will want the horseradish poultice to be nicely warm, but not so hot that it hurts the delicate skin. You can also palpate the area and in older children and adults they will be able to indicate where the pain is. Massage the area gently until the skin turns pinkish. Adults can take a little more time than small children who's skin is so delicate. You'll need to keep close watch because you don't want it to burn the skin. Repeat in a little while if needed. Keep the entire ear warm afterward with a soft cap and my rule of thumb is not to go outside until a few days after pain has ceased.
The horseradish gets the fluids moving, unblocking blocked Eustachian tubes. I've used this technique on both myself and my husband with the same rapid success. It did not work on an earache of mine once which turned out to be fungal rather than bacterial.
Of course none of this is intended as medical advice!