is a hardy perennial plant of the mustard family. Its hotly pungent,
fleshy root is used as a condiment or table relish, mainly in the
form of a sauce to enhance seafoods and meats; the root is traditionally
considered medicinal. Horseradish has been used in the kitchens of
Europe since the Middle Ages. It is said to be one of the bitter herbs
eaten by the Jews of Passover.
to Mediterranean lands, horseradish is now grown throughout the temperate
countries of Northern and South-eastern Europe and in Scandinavia.
In many cool, moist areas it has become a troublesome weed. Large
(up to 1m), coarse, oval, glossy-green basal leaves with pronounced
pale veins arise on long stems from the crown atop the large white
root. Roots are pungent and grow up to 60 cm. Small off-white flowers
are borne in terminal or axillary racemes; small oblong pods are tipped
by a short, persistent style.
plants are invasive and virtually ineradicable. Cultivators propagate
horseradish in the spring by placing pieces of pencil-sized roots
in the soil at a slight angle with the upper ends covered 1 to 2 cm
deep about 30 cm apart in ridges of rich soil. Although a perennial
herb it is better cultivated as an annual crop. All but the terminal
shoots are removed to prevent later formation of multiple crowns,
and the side roots are also rubbed off to minimize branching and crooked
formation. All this work is done by hand. The process is repeated
after six weeks, removing the soil from the upper part of the root
and replacing it afterward. Roots are harvested after one growing
season. They are plowed from the soil, washed, trimmed for storing
in boxes of moist sand. Processors grate the root tissue and pack
it in white vinegar.
is a potent gastric stimulant and is the perfect accompaniment for
rich or fatty foods. It is richer in Vitamin C than lemons or oranges.
Young leaves are used for flavouring in salads, or cooked. Roots are
often made into a sauce.
and other use
is used medicinally as a digestive, antiseptic and stimulant. It is
also useful to make poultices for rheumatism, chest complaints and