Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Horseradish ~ Herb of the Year
Every year the International Herb Association announces the herb of the year. This designation is based on several criteria. The plant must be able to be grown throughout most of the US. It must be useful in multiple ways such as: culinary, medicinal, historical, attractive to bees, birds, a dye plant, etc. This year the Herb of the Year is HORSERADISH.Horseradish is a member of the Brassicaceae family. It grows in full sun and is hardy as far north as Maine. It prefers moist but not constantly wet soil conditions, can tolerate some drought but water stress will produce bitter roots. Plant it where you want it to be because if you try to move it you will end up with two horseradish plants! Roots are dug in the fall or the following Spring. We have grated our own horseradish here but prefer to buy ours fresh ground at the local farmers market. We love the horseradish flowers as a tangy edible flower in salads. It has a bit of a peppery bite that is quite tasty.Horseradish dates back 3,000 years and has been used as an aphrodesiac, a treatment for tuberculosis, a rub for low back pain. Today is it used mostly for sinus congestion during severe colds.
In the US an estimated 24 million pounds of horseradish roots are ground and processed annually to produce approximately 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish! This fat free condiment is a natural food preserver and can be used in many ways: add a splash to tomato juice for a morning wake up, add to mashed potatos, meatloaf, season your pizza sauce with it, make tangy deviled eggs, mix horseradish, apricot preserves and a little mustard for a yummy ham glaze, add 1 Tbsp to 1/2 C french dressing. What is your favorite horseradish use?
Want more on Horseradish? Visit the Herb and Horseradish Festival in Somerset, PA