Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Preparing Horse Radish

 When I was digging potatoes I kept running into really nice horseradish root.  It is a little early in the season to harvest horseradish because cold weather brings out the flavor.  But its still good even if it isn't really hot.  So I don't waste it. I have three big clumps of horseradish along this bank.  Two of them stay nice and tidy and never try to wander off.  But this newest clump is next to a planting area which I am always digging up.  Not only is the soil soft and inviting, but it seems like each time you break a root it uses the opportunity to send up a plant at the breaking point.  

This nice little plant is not welcome here.

Whenever I come across a nice root, I dig as much of it out as I can.  Then I just pop it in a zipper bag and put it in the garden fridge.  My husband is on his way down the fall chores list and today he cleaned out the garden shed fridge.  Our house fridge was completely over run with beer and sweet tea and cabbages so it was a good time to deal with these roots.  This beats the heck out of digging them mid-winter when the ground is muddy and you're out in the snow with a pot of water trying to thaw the ground - but I do it that way too.  How else would we get fresh horseradish for home made cocktail sauce for our holiday shrimp?

The first step is to get a good veggie brush and scrub the roots clean.
These long, flexible carrot-like roots are my favorite to deal with not the coarse, gnarly type at the base of the plant.

Next, cut off the dirty, broken end and the little end that is too skinny to peel.

The roots are just like carrots.  There is no real skin to them, but you want to clean them up and inspect them.  The goal here is not to whittle them down to nothing.  Just scrape the discoloration off.

You could grate this by hand and if you want to  - more power to you.  But I use the food processor.  Here is also where they stop acting like carrots.  They are quire fibrous and tough to chop. You'll need a good chef's knife to dice the roots into something your food processor can handle.

Nothing special here, just a little 3 cup chopper.  I start with just a handful of root.

As the first ones get to a good consistency I keep adding more.  I put about half a cup of water in too to get the mixture moving.  You want to keep shredding until you get quite a fine mixture.

The consistency will begin to get pasty.  You can use vinegar instead of water if you want.  The vinegar will stop and stabilize the chemical process so the longer you wait to add the vinegar, the hotter your end result will be.  If you want more mild taste, go ahead and use vinegar.  This time of year before the roots go dormant the flavor is more mild anyway.

Use a spoon the remove the horseradish leaving the liquid behind.

I use a spoon to pack the mixture down bringing more water to the top so I can pour the liquid off.

Top off the jar with white vinegar.  I use the spoon to loosen the jar contents and allow the vinegar to percolate down to the bottom.  Some people add salt but its not necessary. 

Now you have a jar of nice fresh horse radish that will keep in the refrigerator.  I always date mine.  It will keep for three or four months but will start to lose its kick after about three or four weeks. We use it mostly for roast beef sandwiches.  When fresh it makes absolutely awesome cocktail sauce.  Just find your standard cocktail sauce recipe using ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.


  1. Oh, wow! And thank you, thank you for this wonderful tutorial on prepping horseradish. I will be following your invaluable instructions and tips very closely a year from now when I can dig some of our horseradish root for the first time.

    1. Yes Ma'am I did this with you in mind. Happy Horseradishing! Its a fun plant to have around. I look forward to seeing how you do this too.

  2. Never tried this. Thanks for the very clear directions! Yum...