Foundation Diet and Health
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Horseradish root

Horseradish is known for its hot and spicy flavor. The root is grated and added to sauces, and as a medicinal remedy it is used to strengthen the immune system.

Pictogram nutrient tables

Horseradish root tastes best grated raw. Its hot flavor develops fully when added to sauces and dips. Horseradish stimulates digestion and is rich in vitamin C and a wide range of minerals. 

Culinary uses:

It is best to use fresh horseradish root. After washing and peeling, grate the root. Since the essential oils volatilize quickly, the grated root should be used in a recipe or eaten as soon as possible. Grated horseradish tastes delicious in sauces, dips, and dishes that are a bit spicier.

Cooks use the terms "horseradish" or "prepared horseradish" to refer to the grated root of the horseradish plant mixed with vinegar. Prepared horseradish is white to creamy-beige in color. It can be stored for months under refrigeration, but eventually will darken, indicating it is losing flavour and should be replaced. The leaves of the plant, while edible, are not commonly eaten, and are referred to as "horseradish greens", which have a flavor similar to that of the roots.1

Horseradish sauce:
Horseradish sauce made from grated horseradish root and vinegar is a popular condiment in the United Kingdom and in Poland. In the UK, it is usually served with roast beef, often as part of a traditional Sunday roast; but can be used in a number of other dishes also, including sandwiches or salads. A variation of horseradish sauce, which in some cases may substitute the vinegar with other products like lemon juice or citric acid, is known in Germany as Tafelmeerrettich. Also popular in the UK is Tewkesbury mustard, a blend of mustard and grated horseradish originating in medieval times and mentioned by Shakespeare (Falstaff says: "his wit's as thick as Tewkesbury Mustard" in Henry IV Part II). A very similar mustard, called Krensenf or Meerrettichsenf, is popular in Austria and parts of Eastern Germany. In France, sauce au raifort is popular in Alsatian cuisine. In Russia horseradish root is usually mixed with grated garlic and small amount of tomatoes for color. In the US the term "horseradish sauce" refers to grated horseradish combined with mayonnaise or salad dressing. Prepared horseradish is a common ingredient in Bloody Mary cocktails and in cocktail sauce, and is used as a sauce or sandwich spread. Horseradish cream is a mixture of horseradish and sour cream and is served alongside au jus for a prime rib dinner.1

Nutritional information:

Horseradish root is low in calories and fat. It contains a large amount of vitamin C and moderate amounts of sodium, folate, and dietary fiber. A serving of 100 g of fresh root has 29 mg of vitamin C or 41 % of the daily recommended value. Horseradish root is also known for its anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and soothing effects.

The root contains many volatile oils, most notably mustard oil and allyl isothiocyanate. The latter gives horseradish its pungent flavor. However, allyl isothiocyanate is an unstable compound that degrades over several days at 37 °C (99 °F). As a result of this instability, horseradish sauce does not have the pungency of the fresh root.1

Health aspects:

Horseradish is used to strengthen the immune system, protect against colds, and relieve gastrointestinal complaints. Used externally, it can help with rheumatism and nerve pain. The smell of grated horseradish can relieve tension and headaches.

In the case of insect bites, grated horseradish can be placed on the affected skin area and rubbed in lightly. And if you have toothache, you can put the horseradish on the painful area and leave it there until the pain subsides.

Horseradish contains antibacterial and anticarcinogenic substances such as allicin and sinigrin, which are also found in garlic.

General information:

From Wikipedia: Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) is a perennial plant of the family Brassicaceae (which also includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbage). It is a root vegetable used as a spice. The plant is probably native to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It is popular worldwide. It grows up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall, and is cultivated primarily for its large, white, tapered root. The intact horseradish root has hardly any aroma. When cut or grated enzymes from the now-broken plant cells break down sinigrin (a glucosinolate) to produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil), which irritates the mucous membranes of the sinuses and eyes. Grated mash should be used immediately or preserved in vinegar for best flavor. Once exposed to air or heat it will begin to lose its pungency, darken in color, and become unpleasantly bitter tasting over time.1

Literature / Sources:

  1. Wikipedia. Horseradish [Internet]. Version dated August 16, 2018 [Cited October 12, 2018].