growing horseradish - armoracia rusticana

This hardy perennial, a member of the mustard (crucifer) family, is grown for its roots, which are grated to make a pungent and tangy condiment. In ancient times, horseradish was well known for its medicinal properties. In the Middle Ages, horseradish roots and leaves were used as food. Indigenous to eastern Europe and the Middle East, it was brought to the U.S. in the 17th Century. It is one of the
easiest vegetables to grow and one of the most assertive. New plants will start from bits of root left in the soil. Try growing horseradish in its own little corner of the garden in full sun.

Crowns or root cuttings should be planted in early spring. Horseradish seeds rarely mature and are not used for propagation. Work (dig) the soil well and add compost. Remove stones and pebbles so roots will grow large, smooth and straight (thus, easier to grate).

Space plants about 12 to 18 inches apart with the large end of the root about 2 inches below the soil surface. Keep roots well watered for best results. When leaves are about 12 inches tall, clear the soil around the cutting enough to remove all but the one or two of the crown shoots and rub off small roots from the sides of the cutting. Repeat this procedure in 4 to 5 weeks. These steps are necessary for the finest quality horseradish. When large enough, harvest roots as needed.

Horseradish root should be washed, trimmed, peeled and grated (by hand or in a food processor). Add salt and vinegar or oil and vinegar. These mixtures will keep 5 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Mix grated root with lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Try mixing grated horseradish with cream to make a sauce. Add a few young leaves to salads for a zesty treat. Whole roots can be stored in sawdust or sand in a cool, dark place.