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Thursday, June 11, 2015

How to Grow and Preserve Horseradish

What is horseradish?

Horseradish is one of the easiest plants to grow, and is a delicious flavoring for sauces, marinades and burger patties.  According to wikipedia, "Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) is a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family (which also includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbage). The plant is probably native to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It is now popular around the world. It grows up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall, and is cultivated primarily for its large, white, tapered root." 

How to plant horseradish:

Horseradish is hardy in USDA zones 3-9.  It is a very tough plant and spreads vigorously via its root.  It is best planted in a pot in most garden situations. Simply place the root in the dirt about 1 -2 inches from the surface, laying lengthwise. Cover with dirt and water.  You can purchase a horseradish root from your local garden center, or online garden source

How to harvest horseradish:

If you have grown the horseradish in a pot, it is ready to harvest when the plant fills the pot or the pot is root-bound.  If you have planted the horseradish in the ground (not recommended!) you can dig it up about a year after planting.  Be sure to get every piece of root out of the ground, or it will regrow from the root scraps. 

Once you have un-potted or dug up the horseradish, you can pull it apart at the roots with a spading fork, or your hands. Then, rise off the roots with a strong blast of hose water.

If you wish, you can save a portion of the leaves and root to re-plant in the pot. (A bit like dividing and re-planting a perennial such as daylilies.)  Clean the rest of the roots thoroughly for use in the kitchen.

Cleaning the horseradish:

After you blast the horseradish root with the hose, use a sharp knife and/or pruners to trim the thin, hair-like roots from the main tap root.  Next, scrub the root with a scrubbing pad. Then, peel it with a potato peeler as you would a carrot. 

Preserving the horseradish:

Unfortunately, horseradish cannot be hot water canned or pressure canned.  This is because heat will destroy the allyl isothiocynate (mustard oil) chemical that gives the horseradish its flavor. Thus, canning would cause the horseradish to lose its spicy-heat and become bitter.

CAUTION: When preparing horseradish, please do so in a well ventilated area.  The root will not smell like much initially, but once it is cut, it emits a powerful mustard smell that will make your eyes burn! Onions have NOTHING on horseradish when it comes to making your cry!

Option 1: Simply cut the horseradish into slices, place it in a zip bag or plastic container and place it in the freezer.  It will last in the freezer for at least a year.

Option 2:  Make pickled horseradish "sauce".
1/2 lb cleaned horseradish,  2 cups vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt,  1 teaspoon sugar.

1. Sterilize some glass canning jars and lids by boiling them in water for 10 minutes.
2. Cut the horseradish root into pieces.
3.Place the horseradish into a food processor and mince it finely. (You could also
grate the horseradish, but please only do this in a well ventilated area while wearing goggles and gloves.)
4. Mix the vinegar, salt and sugar together.
5. Mix the vinegar solution together with the horseradish pieces.
6. Place the mixture into the sterilized glass jars and seal the lid tightly

The horseradish will keep for 6 months to a year in the refrigerator with this method.

You could also try freezing the horseradish this way, but be sure to leave enough space in the jar for the liquid to expand. Otherwise, the jar may break in your freezer.  The horseradish will keep for at least a year when frozen.

CAUTION:  As with any pickled, jarred, refrigerated or fresh food (whether you make it yourself or buy it in a store): if the food appears moldy, slimy, smells bad or "off", do NOT eat it.  Please use common sense and err on the side of caution.

 Cooking with horseradish:

Many recipes make use of horseradish.  Here are links to some:

Horseradish Mayonaise

Salmon with Horseradish Crust

Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream

Horseradish Burgers

Braised Lamb with Horseradish and Parsley

 Horseradish Mashed Potatoes (vegetarian)

Roasted Asparagus and Portabella Mushrooms with Horseradish Sauce (vegan)



  1. Where did you purchase your beginning root? I can't wait to try this! I'd love to share this on my website with full credit, of course!

  2. Hello! I got the root at a local nursery here in Michigan. Mithink it was Weigand's nursery, several years ago. The blog post has a link to some online sources though, and there are many more sources if you google "buy horseradish root." It is a very tough plant, so nearly any source should be a good one. The thing practically wants to grow right in your hand! 😀 Thank you for sharing my blog post. I appreciate that!