I Got Them Crying Over My Horseradish Blues

Two years ago I threw the remains of a horseradish thinning into the compost pile. It rooted, as horseradish likes to do, and I let most of it grow. I’ve always grown horseradish in my regular garden beds, keeping it at one end of the herbs. After this weekend’s harvest, I’m pretty sure the horseradish will stay in the compost area.

Digging horseradish out of my clayey beds is always a back breaker and I leave so much behind that I have horseradish sprouting for the next several years. Digging it out of the compost and the soft compost-rich soil in that area is a lot easier. The roots are cleaner, fatter, smoother, and straighter than they would be coming out of my beds.

In northern climates horseradish is amazingly easy to grow. The most difficult problem is keeping it under control. It will spread vigorously and almost any piece of it will root and sprout. It is not pest and disease free, however. Insect damage from wire worms and rotten spots that form in the folds of the convoluted roots are two of the major problems that I’ve had.


Roots Ready for Peeling and Processing

The harvest of yesterday was mostly very clean. This picture shows the roots just after they had their tops cut off and were trimmed and washed before being peeled.

I explained the process for turning roots into prepared horseradish, here:

We also mentioned horseradish in another blog. It was Anneliese’s Guess the Flower post.

Preparing horseradish always brings back memories of the gas mask drill we had when I was at basic training in the army. Back then, they put a bunch of us in a room and started blowing in some tear gas. We were not allowed to put on our masks until we got a good whiff. Even the mild dosage came close to causing panic among the trainees. It brought up lots of mucus from your lungs, filled your eyes with tears, and the gas irritated your skin.

Horseradish vapors are a lot like tear gas. A good whiff of freshly ground root can actually hurt. It makes your nose run, you cry, and it tightens up your scalp. We have fun with a new batch by punishing ourselves. We put a dab of horseradish on a little piece of cheese and try to be brave as the horseradish high kicks in. It only hurts for a couple seconds.

The strain we have is not super hot and has outstanding horseradish flavor. Of all the foods connected to meat, horseradish tempts me the most to break my reasonably sincere vegetarian vows and go out and buy a ring of kielbasa to enjoy horseradish to the max. But we settle for hard boiled eggs and cheese to go with this wonderful, home grown condiment. And honestly, I don’t miss the meat that much.


Five Pints Plus of Finished Product

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