Date: May 1988 (Reviewed April 1995)
Source: University of Wisconsin
Horseradish is a root crop, grown for the pungent roots. They contain highly volatile oils with a sharp flavor. Enzyme activity releases the oils when you crush the root cells.
Dig roots when they reach full size, after early fall frosts or in the early spring before new growth starts. Return a section of the root to the soil to grow next year's crop.
If you can't prepare roots immediately, hold them in a cold bin, such as in a root cellar, or in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator or freezer. They will keep for 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator and for 6 months or longer in the freezer. Prepare only as much horseradish as you can use in a reasonable time.
You can store fresh roots for several months; wash them, place in a food grade plastic bag and store at 32 to 38 degrees.
For hot horseradish, use fresh roots. A good quality root is clean, firm and free from cuts and blemishes. The freshly peeled or sliced root and the prepared product are creamy white. The whiter the root, the fresher it is. As processed horseradish ages, it darkens and loses its pungency and in time, off-flavor may develop.
Grind fresh horseradish in a well-ventilated room. The fumes from grinding are potent--one whiff may be stronger than you expect!
To grate horseradish, wash and peel the root as you would a potato and dice it into small cubes. Place the cubes in the blender jar. Process no more than half a container, one load at a time. Completely cover the blades with cold water or crushed ice before you turn the blender on. If necessary, add more water or crushed ice to finish grinding. When done, pour off excess water.
When the mixture reaches the desired consistency, add white distilled vinegar, which is a 5 to 6 percent solution. Salt is also added. You can substitute lemon juice for vinegar for a slightly different flavor.
The time when you add the vinegar is important. Vinegar stops the enzymatic action in the ground product and stabilizes the degree of hotness. If you prefer milder horseradish, add the vinegar immediately. If you like horseradish as hot as it can be, wait 3 minutes before adding vinegar.
Place the mixture in 1/2 pint glass jars and screw the lids on firmly. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Drying will not produce a successful product. Even when reconstituted, the product will tend to have a hay-like flavor and will be tough and rubbery in texture.
If you have further questions, please contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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