Love the Kick of Horseradish?

        Once you have eaten fresh homemade horseradish sauce, you will never want to eat the store-bought brands. It’s even better if the roots come from your own garden.

       If you grow horseradish plants, now is the time to convert the roots to sauce. The hard freeze a couple weeks ago killed the foliage, and that dieback is essential to making a horseradish sauce that has the kick of a mule. 

       I have discovered over the years that the best-tasting sauce is made from larger roots that are two or more years old. In my earlier years of making horseradish sauce, I would harvest the entire bed each year and replant. I changed my method of harvesting for the better after reading an article in an Old Farmers Almanac. Now I have split the horseradish patch in half without sacrificing yield.

       Follow this recipe to the letter for a sauce that is powerfully tasty.  

       Do not allow the roots to dry before processing them. Make your horseradish on the same day you dig the roots.

       Start by sterilizing washed and rinsed jars in a 200-degree oven for 30 minutes.

      To reduce waste, scrape the horseradish roots clean rather then using a potato peeler. Do the scraping and peeling under water to avoid blurred vision and to keep the roots strong. I work in the kitchen sink in a couple inches of water. As soon as the roots are clean, rinse them in clean water and place them in a bowl of cool water. 

      Cut the roots into two- to three-inch-long pieces and put them in a food processor. Run the processor on high speed. 

     This should be done outside or under a hood that exhausts the air. Working under the hood at arm’s length to avoid inhaling the fumes, scrape the ground horseradish roots into an open bowl. Keep track of how many cups of ground roots you process. Allow the mixture to rest in the bowl for a minimum of 10 minutes. During this resting stage, the ground roots develop their greatest potency.

     For each cup of ground root, add one level teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix well in the bowl before returning to the food processor. With the food processor operating at high speed, add apple cider vinegar slowly through the chimney until the entire content in the food processor begins to swirl and appears creamy. Empty the horseradish sauce into a clean bowl until all of the ground roots have been creamed.

      After the jars have sufficiently cooled, fill them to the brim to exclude air so the horseradish will keep its kick longer. Cover the jars with lids that have been sterilized in boiling water, and store the jars in the refrigerator. Do not process the filled jars in a boiling water bath.

     Once a jar of horseradish sauce has been opened, it begins to lose its kick, even when refrigerated. Smoothing the surface of the sauce in the jar after each use helps to retain some of the flavor and kick. Placing a teaspoon of olive oil over the smooth surface also helps retain flavor and kick.

Plant Next Year’s Bed

       As you are harvesting the roots, select young vigorous crowns to replant into the bed as soon as you finish harvesting. Plant these crowns approximately 18 inches to two feet apart. Do not select planting crowns larger than one inch in diameter.

      Any pieces of root left behind will sprout leaves next spring. To prevent overcrowding, thin the planting so they are at least a foot apart. Always remove the weaker plants.