Horseradish has been revered medicinally in home remedies and in culinary dishes for centuries. In fact, ancient Greek mythology referenced horseradish as being worth its weight in gold. It is a vegetable that’s in the same plant family as mustard, broccoli, cabbage, and wasabi. Although the leaves are edible, it’s the horseradish root that is most commonly used to spice up foods. So what does this unsung hero in the cruciferous vegetable family offer in the way of health?
Health Benefits of Horseradish
Horseradish is rich in calcium, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B2, plus it contains powerful antioxidants and natural antibiotic properties that work to eliminate toxins and infection, and to relieve sinus discomfort and respiratory illness.
A University of Illinois anticancer study has found that horseradish contains more than 10 times the amount of cancer-preventing glucosinolates than broccoli. And a quarter cup serving contains a mere 29 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein, and less than a half a gram of fat.
Horseradish is a traditional Central and Eastern European food, served for centuries in Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Southern Germany, Serbia, Croatia, and in various regions of Italy, before it was introduced to England and the Western hemisphere. According to Susan R. Friedland, author of The Passover Table, grated horseradish is part of the Jewish Seder plate, served with gefilte fish and brisket during the week of Passover.
Fresh horseradish is peeled and grated and served either plain, or mixed with white vinegar, salt, and sugar. In Poland, a red horseradish variation is made by adding beets or beet juice. In Southern Germany, horseradish is served in a lingonberry dip at traditional wedding dinners with cooked beef.
Horseradish is an ingredient in commercially bottled spicy mustards and mayonnaise and it is what gives cocktail sauce its tangy flavor. It also gives that spicy bite to Bloody Marys. Prepared horseradish can also be served with fresh oysters on the half shell or in a sauce with roast beef, fish, or lamb. Try grating some in with your favorite coleslaw recipe for added zing!
However you choose to use horseradish, the fresh horseradish root must be peeled and grated. When working with fresh horseradish, you may want to grate in a blender or food processor to avoid the vapors. Cover the grated horseradish with a little vinegar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Where To Buy Horseradish
You can buy fresh horseradish root in most specialty or health food supermarkets. Ask your grocer about availability. Prepared horseradish is widely available in grocery stores, but may not be as tasty or spicy as freshly grated.
Horseradish Mayonnaise (Blender Recipe)
Horseradish Mayonnaise (Blender Recipe)
- 1 egg (preferably pastured)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ tablespoon ground mustard, firmly packed
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Instructions:Crack the egg into a blender and add the white wine vinegar. Secure lid and blend briefly to whip the egg. Add the remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the blender and secure lid. Start blender on low and slowly increase speed to high. While blender is running, slowly pour the remaining olive oil through the lid cap. Stop the machine as soon all the olive oil is incorporated. The mixture should be the consistency of mayonnaise.Try this easy recipe, which is a great spread for roast beef, brisket or barbecue sandwiches, or with hard-boiled eggs for a zesty egg salad!
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.