Ingredient,  Jams and Condiments,  Passover,  Technique,  Techniques & Ingredients

Quick Homemade Horseradish: If You Can’t Stand the Fumes….

Making your own horseradish takes just four ingredients: horseradish root, vinegar, salt, and courage. The goal is to get from root to jar as quickly as possible, minimizing the time you spend holding your breath, clenching your eyes, and stumbling out of the kitchen gasping for air.

But if you like horseradish, you’ll enjoy the challenge. No store-bought brand can mess with your pleasure/pain center quite like the stuff you make fresh.

My dad famously made horseradish from home-grown root, yet it was Mom who consumed it with the most gusto. She heaped it onto her gefilte fish, laughing through her tears about how well it cleared her sinuses.

As my neuroscientist daughter points out, the burn from horseradish is different from the capsaicin heat of chili peppers. A hot-pepper burn can persist for hours, while the horseradish shock vanishes in a moment. Horseradish gets its pungency from the compound allyl isothiocyanate, which is highly volatile so it vaporizes into your sinuses, leaving trace flavors to flash across your tongue. Once the fumes leave your sinuses, so does the burn.

Horseradish, a staple condiment in our household, makes a burly counterpart to ketchup and mustard. It loses potency with time, so every couple of months out comes a new batch.

The horseradish root looks a little like an elephant leg and foot. Often misshapen with a lot of dirt in the crevices, it can be tricky to peel. Happily, Stop and Shop now sells nicely cleaned, rather straight roots for easy peeling. Make sure to choose a fresh, firm piece.

You’ll need a blender or food processor. I prefer my blender because it does a good grinding job and, most importantly, the lid seals in the fumes.

This recipe is simple and quick. And believe me, you’ll want to make it quick.

Quick Homemade Horseradish

  • One horseradish root
  • Dash of salt
  • White vinegar (up to a cup or more)
  1. Open a window.
  2. Wash and peel the root. The root can be tough, so slice lengthwise in half along the grain and then cut into chunks.
  3. Pulse/grind chunks in a blender or food processor, scraping sides as needed while avoiding fumes, about a minute.
  4. Keeping lid on, wait a minute or so before adding vinegar (because the longer you wait the stronger the horseradish will get).
  5. Pour in enough vinegar to nearly cover the horseradish and add a dash of salt. Blend again to combine.
  6. Spoon into glass jars, keeping your face away from the fumes. Refrigerate.
  7. Leave window open or close it, to taste.
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