how to make homemade horseradish

A few years ago, I got the brilliant idea to plant horseradish. I got the roots at a local store and then, because I ran out of time to plant them, ended up sticking them in our refrigerator for a week.

So when I finally took the 3 tiny roots out of their little burlap bag and stuck them in the ground, I said to my husband “this is never going to work.”

Behold, a photo of our horseradish plants in their full summer glory:

lola rugula how to make homemade horseradish recipe

Growing horseradish at home is obviously pretty easy and, I will warn you now, this stuff spreads pretty quickly. Containing it with something buried in the ground around it would be best if you have limited space or don’t plan on digging most of it up every year like we do. I don’t do anything special to our horseradish and it continues to thrive. Go figure.

So now, every year, crazy husband and I make our own horseradish. Inside our house. I only recommend this to people with either a strong constitution or zero sense of smell.

You can find horseradish roots at a lot of grocery stores now so if you’ve been contemplating trying your hand at making horseradish you no longer have a valid excuse. Here’s a bit of our harvest this year:

lola rugula how to make homemade horseradish1 lola rugula how to make homemade horseradish2

My husband dug these up about a week ago and then placed them in a bucket inside our unheated garage & they were all just fine. I’ve read that the best time to harvest horseradish is after a hard freeze or two, so we typically wait until December to embark on this yearly adventure.

Now all you have to do is peel the roots with a vegetable peeler and cut off the ends. Here are the cleaned horseradish roots:
lola rugula how to make homemade horseradish3

Once you’ve peeled them, rinse them well and pat dry. Cut them into large chunks, which will make the processing quicker and easier. Then, in a food processor fitted with the regular chopping blade, throw in some of your horseradish chunks, put on the processor lid and let her rip.

Let the processor run until you’ve got a nice, fine grind.

Now comes the hard part:

Remove the processor lid and scrape the horseradish out into a large bowl. The fumes alone will force you to make this a very quick chore. It may take a few seconds but once the fumes become airborne, there’s no stopping them. I recommend opening a window or turning on a fan. Safety glasses may also be a good idea.

Actually, what I really recommend is making your horseradish outside but that’s not always feasible in the dead of winter.

Repeat with remaining horseradish roots until they’re all done. At this point, if you’re doing this right, you should be crying full-fledged tears. Seriously.

To your bowl of ground horseradish, start stirring in white vinegar until you’ve reached a consistency that you like. Err on the side of a little too much vinegar than too little – the horseradish will continue to absorb it and you don’t want it too dry or crumbly.

You can also add sugar and/or salt to taste. Normally we don’t add either but a friend recently told us that adding sugar makes it hotter so….this year we added some sugar to 1/3 our finished horseradish. The jury’s still out on whether this actually works or not. It seemed pretty hot when we tasted it but, after having our eyes and sinus passages singed from the fumes for an hour or so, we may not have been impartial judges.

Here is a bit of our finished product:

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And here’s the first way we enjoyed it:lola rugula how to make homemade horseradish5To freeze our prepared horseradish, I simply place batches of it in small freezer-safe containers and freeze. Give it a couple of days to defrost in the refrigerator before using.

Here’s to a delicious new year!

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