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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Horseradish


Horseradish:

About:

Horseradish (Amoracia rusticana) is a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family along with mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbage.  It has a strong, hot, and sharp flavor.   The plant is probably native to southeastern Europe amd western Asia.  It ios now popular around the world.  
Intact horseradish has hardly any aroma .  When it is cut or grated, however, enzymes from the now broken plant cells break down sinigrin, a glucosinolate, to produce mustard oil which irritates the mucous membranes of the sinuses and eyes.

Uses:

Horseradish or "prepared horseradish" usually refers to the grated root mixed with vinegar.  Prepared horseradish is white to creamy beige in color.  I(t will keep for months refrigerated but eventually will darken indicating it is loosing flavor and should be replaced.  "Horseradish sauce" refers to grated horseradish combined with mayonnaise or salad dressing.  In the U.K. prepared horseradish is usually served with roast beef but can be used in other dishes including sandwiches or salads.  Grating horseradish crushes the cells of the root, releasing the volatile oils ( isocyanates) which give horseradish its heat.  Adding vinegar stops this enzymatic reaction.  The longer you wait to add the vinegar the hotter the horseradish will be.

History:

Horseradish has been cultivated since antiquity.  According to Greek mythology the Delphic Oracle told Apollo that the horseradish was worth its weight in gold.  Horseradish was known in Egypt in 1500 B.C.  Cato discusses the plant in his treatises on agriculture and a mural in Pompeii shows the plant.


Health Benefits:

Compounds in horseradish have been widely studied for health benefits.  Horseradish contains volatile oils, notably mustard oil which has anti-bacterial properties.  Fresh, the plant contains quantities of vitamin C.  The enzyme horseradish peroxidase found in the plant is used extensively in molecular biology and biochemistry.   The glucosinolates in horseradish have the potential to increased human resistance to cancer and environmental toxins.  They have powerful  antioxidant properties and can be used to relieve sinus and respiratory distress (half teaspoon in the morning and afternoon).  Glucinolates also act as natural antibiotics against different types of infections because of their known toxicity to specific bacteria and fungi., as well as their ability to increase blood flow to the infected area and more rapidly remove waste products from that region of the body. 

Relation to Wasabi:

The Japanese condiment wasabi , although traditionally prepared from the wasabi plant is now usually made with horseradish due to the scarcity of the wasabi plant.

Season:

Horseradish is available year round.  Fresh horseradish is sometimes hard to find  because prepared horseradish has become so common.  Prepared horseradish is found in jars in the dairy section of your local market.  The fresh horseradish is often individually packaged.   Fresh horseradish is most abundant  during the spring and again in the late fall.

Selecting and Storing:

Choose horseradish that is very hard, not limp and with no signs of withering or soft spots.  
Wrap horseradish in a damp paper towel and place in a paper bag.  Refrigerate in the crisper section of your refrigerator, where it will keep for several weeks.   Do not store horseradish in plastic bags to avoid condensation which will lead to rot.  


So..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.


Ideas for the Horseradish Information Council:

  • At breakfast - add prepared horseradish to scrambled eggs, omelets, and hash browns before cooking
  • For lunch - add prepared horseradish to mayonnaise or salad dressing for sandwiches or to French dressing for salads. 
  • Spike ready made deli items such as cole slaw, baked beans and potato salad with a heaping spoonful of horse radish
  • At dinner - substitute prepared horseradish for butter and salt as a vegetable topping.
  • Add one or two spoon fulls of horseradish to soup, canned or homemade
  • Mash horseradish with potatoes or mix with low fat sour cream for a baked potato topping.

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