Herb of the month December

Armoracia rusticana


Horseradish, is an upright stout perennial, with a thick, branched tap root.  The plant may be propagated by a root cutting obtained from purchasing a root from your local grocery's produce department.  The roots grow outward so plant the root about 1 foot (12 inches) deep in a wide pot or whiskey barrel.  Be sure to keep the root moist. If planted  in early spring it may be harvested by Thanksgiving.  Wrapped in paper towel and stored in a plastic bag or container in your fridge the root will remain fresh for several months.  If planted in your herb garden it is a difficult plant to get rid of as all parts of the root left in the soil will grow into new plants. 

Fresh horseradish if very pungent (the essential oil contained in the root will clear your sinuses!) use discretion as to the amount you use in your recipes.  It may be grated, mixed with vinegar or cream to accompany roast beef, cold chicken or hard boiled eggs.  In Eastern Europe it is often mixed with beets and used as a condiment.  I like to joke and say that it is a fairly recent addition to our gardens being in cultivation for less than 2000 years and was not generally grown for cultivation until the 1600's.  It has been used over the centuries for a variety of ailments, but most specifically as an antibacterial fighting infection and lowering fever by increasing perspiration.  Externally, it has been used as a poultice for infected wounds, to fight pleurisy and the pain of arthritis.

A lovely quote from the herbalist John Gerard in his book (The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597) tells us that - "The Horseradish, stamped with a little vinegar put thereto, is commonly used among the Germans for sauce to eate fish with and such like meates as we do mustarde"

Basic Horseradish Cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup finely grated horseradish root

1/4 cup of liquid either cider vinegar (tart flavor) or vegetable cooking water (milder)

Combine all, mix well and serve over veggies, meat or eggs

Baked Root Veggies with Horseradish Cream

Pare & clean 1 pound of carrots, parsnips, beets or celery root

Boil or steam the veggies until tender, drain reserving 1/4 cup of cooking liquid

Put the above basic horseradish cream in warm saucepan and whisk until smooth

Spread prepared veggies in baking dish - pour sauce over top

Add salt & pepper to taste

Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs or Panko mixed with 1 TSP melted butter

Bake in pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 6-10 minutes to crisp and brown crumbs

Serve immediately garnished with parsley (Herb of the Year for 2021) and/or chives

During this pandemic, it is absolutely imperative to keep ourselves, families and friends hale and healthy.  One of the ways we can ensure this is to incorporate health giving herbs into everyday meals.  Who doesn't love roast beef with very piquant horseradish sauce and now that the colder weather has arrived, it sounds even better.  But horseradish doesn't have to only be eaten with meats, it is absolutely delicious as a condiment with meats and vegetables.  Grated with apples it is also a delicious accompaniment with all varieties of fish.