How to Both Grow and Make Your Own Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish has been around for a very long time when it comes to garden vegetables or herbs.

In fact, we have records that say the Egyptians used this plant before 1500 B.C. and it is one of the "bitter" herbs used in Passover traditions.

Believe it or not, it was also used as an aphrodisiac (mind you, the Romans used just about everything as an aphrodisiac).

Planting Horeseradish

The roots of this plant are what we grow and they are planted in the springtime as soon as you can work the ground.

Plant roots four to six inches deep and one foot apart (it has a vigorous top growth).

You can grow horseradish in almost any soil except very heavy clay.



Keeping Damp

Do not let them dry out too much in the heat of the summer; mulching is a good idea (mind you, mulching is a good idea for almost all vegetable plants).

I've always found the horseradish roots to be pest and disease free and grew from year to year with no work on my part. This plant is easy to grow in full hot sunshine and once you have it, you won't lose it (although it doesn't spread unless you leave roots in the ground)

Because that's one of the keys to this plant. Plant it where you expect to grow it for a few years. I always found that I could seldom get all the roots of every plant so every bit of root I left in the ground became a new plant the following year. If you're a more thorough digger than I am, leave a six inch long chunk of root wherever you want a plant for the subsequent year when you harvest in late summer or early fall.

I always love those recommendations that call for thinning horseradish roots by pulling up the extras. I think I could thin mine with a 100 horsepower backhoe (about the same size as the one I used to dig the farm pond).


This is simple gardening. Dig them up. You'll never get all the root so what you leave is next year's crop. If you think you managed to dig the entire root up, then simply chop off a six-inch long chunk (or two) and replant properly. You'll have lots next year.

Note: this is generally considered a tough plant to eliminate from the garden.

Heat Value of Horseradish

Now, the heat value of the root is not evident until you grate or grind up the root. It is at this point that the volatile oils (called isothiocyanates) are released.

For mild horseradish, add vinegar immediately after grinding. For hotter sauce, wait a bit to add the vinegar. (it is hard to tell you how long to wait to get the heat you want because the roots are different depending on the variety and the growing conditions - keep sampling till you get what you want).

The longer you wait to ad the vinegar – the hotter the sauce will be as vinegar stabilizes the production of the oils.

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Grind in Well Ventilated Room

When you grind it, do so in a well-ventilated room. This stuff is as potent as very hot peppers. I like using a blender to whip it up and then leave it for a bit to get the heat I want.

I wash the roots before I grind as I'm a little fussy that way. Sand in the teeth just does't cut it! I just chop the roots up so they don't stick and bridge in the blender. I add a little water to get the consistency I'm looking for. I'm told that the recipe calls for two to three tablespoons of vinegar and a half teaspoon of salt for every cup of vinegar. A friend told me she uses lemon juice instead of the vinegar. (I'm a measureless-cook when it comes to this stuff - a dash here, a splash here and away I go.)

Store in a refrigerator until you use it. And you can use it all over the place (not just on roast beef).

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