Horse-radish – Armoracia Rusticana
I’m no lover of hot foods like chilli or even curry but there is something quite different about the heat from mustard and horseradish that I enjoy it has a way of making me feel quite comfortable probably a strange description of horseradish but it’s mine anyways ,
Now everyone has probably at one time or another tasted horseradish sauce and it seems to have a marmite reaction with people and I find it astonishing that it’s the only common use of this great wild edible .
All parts of the horseradish are edible and have different degrees of use all of them carrying the underlying horseradish taste and heat , many of our wild greens that are available in quantity are relatively bland and left wanting in taste horseradish offers this in quantity , I’m not saying a nice big plate of blanched leaf is a good way forward but adding a few young sprouting leafs to a bigger quantity of bland greens such as lambs quarters is a big improvement , I’ve been experimenting with the leaf for some time now and I’ve had some results worth sharing .
The first is a versatile addition to the larder and couldn’t be easier to make I simply took young leaves remove the centre stem ( don’t discard them as they make superb pickles ) and shredded them roughly and added them to oil , I used olive oil at a ratio of 50/50 oil to leaf for a frying oil and a 25/75 oil to leaf for a dressing oil .
This is left for two to three weeks tasting after two weeks to measure strength and then the leaf is removed to prevent the oil getting bitter , I’ve read other people using the root to infuse oil but I personally found it far to strong .
I also find the young leaf a great addition to fried potatoes and in in the process of testing out a tip from Peter @absolutelywild as he tells me a leaf added to pickles keeps the pickles crisp , I’ll update as I discover the results I’m also drying leaf to use in a smoker
My second favourite use is the root and not grated and made into a sauce but simply roasted and added to stews and soups , roasting the roots like any other root veg knocks the flavour back and whilst it retains some heat it is much more pleasing and added to a winter stew is a welcome addition in fact horseradish and wild parsnip creamed soup is one of my favourite winter eats the sweet from the parsnip celebrates the warmth from the horseradish in a great way , so one third horseradish root to two thirds parsnip root are tossed in oil and honey and then roasted until soft and then added to one cup of veg stock blitzed seasoned and add cream to thicken some ground hogweed and parsnip seed to season and a great winter warmer dish .
I’m not going to add a sauce recipe as there are so many good ones out there I will just be repeating the same so I would recommend looking a Monica wildes great one just follow the link , Monica’s horseradish sauce
The other great use for horseradish is a cough syrup which involves the root which needs to be grated , a quick tip is to wash the root and peel it , this is best done submerged in water as volatile oil contained in the root called sinigrin which is broken down via cutting or grating it will produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil) which is not pleasant both on your eyes and chest .
It will then need to be blitzed in a good processor and if you have one placed in a jelly bag on a stand ,
You then need a simple syrup made from a 50/50 mix of white wine vinegar and castor sugar allow to cool to a warm temp and pour over the blitzed root and leave to seep through the shredded mass and then repeat for a second time .
The blitzed remainder can be added to cream to make a nice dip for chips .
So here’s hoping that next time you pass the grand curls of wild horseradish you use more than just its root .