Armoracia rusticana Syn.
Cochlearia armoracia, Armoracia lapathifolia
Family : Cruciferae
Horseradish is a hardy perennial
plant of the mustard family. Its hotly pungent, fleshy root is used
as a condiment or table relish, mainly in the form of a sauce to
enhance seafoods and meats; the root is traditionally considered
medicinal. Horseradish has been used in the kitchens of Europe since
the Middle Ages. It is said to be one of the bitter herbs eaten
by the Jews of Passover.
Native to Mediterranean lands, horseradish
is now grown throughout the temperate countries of Northern and
South-eastern Europe and in Scandinavia. In many cool, moist areas
it has become a troublesome weed. Large (up to 1m), coarse, oval,
glossy-green basal leaves with pronounced pale veins arise on long
stems from the crown atop the large white root. Roots are pungent
and grow up to 60 cm. Small off-white flowers are borne in terminal
or axillary racemes; small oblong pods are tipped by a short, persistent
Horseradish plants are invasive and
virtually ineradicable. Cultivators propagate horseradish in the
spring by placing pieces of pencil-sized roots in the soil at a
slight angle with the upper ends covered 1 to 2 cm deep about 30
cm apart in ridges of rich soil. Although a perennial herb it is
better cultivated as an annual crop. All but the terminal shoots
are removed to prevent later formation of multiple crowns, and the
side roots are also rubbed off to minimize branching and crooked
formation. All this work is done by hand. The process is repeated
after six weeks, removing the soil from the upper part of the root
and replacing it afterward. Roots are harvested after one growing
season. They are plowed from the soil, washed, trimmed for storing
in boxes of moist sand. Processors grate the root tissue and pack
it in white vinegar.
Horseradish is a potent gastric
stimulant and is the perfect accompaniment for rich or fatty foods.
It is richer in Vitamin C than lemons or oranges. Young leaves are
used for flavouring in salads, or cooked. Roots are often made into
Horseradish is used medicinally as
a digestive, antiseptic and stimulant. It is also useful to make
poultices for rheumatism, chest complaints and circulation problems.