Tasteful Garden: Grow horseradish in a container

CorrespondentsNovember 16, 2012 

MBR

The green top of the horseradish plant is used at Passover seders as the bitter root.

CHARLES OSGOOD — MCT

  • Horseradish Butter Adapted from “The Good Stuff Cookbook” by Helen Witty (Workman Publishing, 1997) 1 clove garlic, peeled ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 2 to 3 tablespoons finely grated fresh horseradish DROP the garlic into boiling water and simmer for about 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry, then pound to a paste in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. USE an electric mixer to beat the butter until creamy. Add the horseradish and garlic. Beat on low to work them into the butter, or use a spatula to stir them in. Scrape the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap loosely, pat it into a log shape and refrigerate until firm. When the butter is firm, wrap it securely in plastic. Use within a day or two. Yield: ½ cup

Carol Stein grows it

Horseradish is a prolific perennial herb that adapts to all types of soil. But it can become overbearing, so I highly recommend growing it in containers.

Depending on your taste for this pungent root, growing a small amount in an 18-by-18-inch container might be plenty. But if you’re a huge fan, plant one to three roots in a half barrel or container of similar size. Containers should be well draining and give the roots plenty of room to spread.

To plant horseradish roots from the grocery store, cut two to three inches from the wider top portion to use in the kitchen. Then point the narrow end downward into the soil at a slight angle and deep enough so the top is 2 inches below the surface. Mail-order suppliers usually include planting instructions.

Plant the roots between now and mid-December into a mixture of equal parts of soilless potting mix, composted manure and organic soil conditioner or mini-pine bark nuggets. Place the containers in full sun. Water on the same day every week until water drains from the bottom of the container. Thoroughly moisten the soil when freezing temperatures are predicted to prevent the roots from freeze drying.

Once the roots are fully established next spring, horseradish becomes drought tolerant and will fare fine even if the soil dries out completely between watering days.

The frilly green foliage that appears in spring resembles mustard greens. Add flowering annuals to the containers after the last frost date for an attractive combination. Try drought-tolerant marigolds, ageratum, zinnias and lantana.

Harvest horseradish roots next fall after the first frost kills the leaves. Gently dig up as many roots as you need and discard the dead foliage. Roots left growing will continue producing year after year.

If you choose to take all the roots, save a few root cuttings to replant, mix more organic material into the soil and repeat the process for the following growing season.

Debbie Moose cooks it

Serving oysters without the kick of horseradish-laden cocktail sauce is simply a sin. And a little horseradish mixed into potato salad or even deviled eggs really wakes them up.

The pungent heat of horseradish, and its green cousin wasabi, is different from that of hot peppers. The fire doesn’t hang around after the first whoosh of flavor, leaving your tastebuds ready for more.

Horseradish is an ancient herb, and is one of the five bitter herbs of the Passover seder. A simple sauce of grated fresh horseradish and vinegar, sometimes with beet juice for color, is traditional for the meal.

If you can’t find fresh horseradish in a supermarket, try an Asian market. But wherever you purchase them, look for roots that are firm and show no signs of withering. Place the roots in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Always peel fresh horseradish before using it. Horseradish roots can be frozen: Scrape them clean and wrap in airtight freezer bags. Grate off a little of the frozen roots as you need it.

Prepared horseradish is available in jars, but it quickly loses its fire after opening. The fresh roots, peeled just before you use them, are a whole other animal. Use fresh horseradish in this simple but assertive accent for beef roasts or steaks, or even on sandwiches with that leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Reach Carol Stein and Debbie Moose at tastefulgarden@hotmail.com.

For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link:

Horseradish Butter

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