How to get started:
What to do next:
The next step:
- 4 teasp. of fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1 level teasp. salt
- 1 level teasp. sugar
The last steps:
After I just wrote about growing of horseradish you might wonder how to use it in the kitchen. Horseradish is a condiment that is eaten mainly with smoked fish or smoked meat or roast beef. For this it has to be preserved first and then, whenever needed it is mixed with whipped cream to the desired strength. Before you get started let me warn you - horseradish is spicy and it's stingent etheric oils will bite your nose and eyes if you are not careful. The green wasabi paste that is served with Sushi is also made from a horseradish variety. Just to give you an idea of the kind of spiciness you have to expect. But it is nevertheless delicious and healthy and shouldn't be missing from any good kitchen.
How to get started:
Harvest horseradish by pulling or lifting it out of the ground. Cut of the leave tops and discard them. Wash the roots with clear water and a brush. Don't wash the thin plantlets you have laid aside to re-plant later.
Using a very sharp knife peel the roots thinly. Cut out any hollow or black parts.
You end up with nice white roots. Discard the peels and any roots that were too thin to be peeled sensibly.
What to do next:
The hardest part is grating the horseradish. It needs to be grated finely. That can be done with a grater or a kitchen machine. Both is possible. Be careful as the vapours that are released during this process are strong and hurt your eyes and nose if you come too close.
If you are using a kitchen machine you need to cut the roots into thinner and smaller pieces first so that the machine can cope with them. Horseradish is quite hard, dry and elastic. Take care not to put too much strain on the machine. Therefore it is advisable to work in small batches.
Grate the roots as finely as possible. The end result should look something like in the picture below:
The next step:
Measure out the amount of grated horseradish you have gained. For every 100 g of grated root you need:
The last steps:
Use some clean old jam jars. Smaller ones are preferable. Sterilize them by standing them head over in a large pot filled up to 2 cm with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and leave the jars plus their lids in the boiling water for about 2 minutes.
Spoon the horseradish mix into the jars and compress it, to remove as much air as possible. Clean the rim of the jars with a clean tissue paper or napkin.
Place the lids on the jars and close them tightly.
Heat your oven to 200*C. Bring the water in the large pot that you used to sterilize the jars again to a boil. Place the filled jars inside. Set the pot with the jars in the oven and sterilize them again for 15 min at 200*C.
After the jars have cooled down completely the jars will be tightly closed by the vacuum that forms inside the jars. You can store the horseradish preserve for several months, preferably in a cold and dark spot. Whenever you want to use it, mix a few teaspoons of it into 100 ml whipped cream and use as a condiment. The more horseradish you mix into the cream the stronger and hotter it will be. Once you opened a jar you need to store it in the fridge and use it in the next couple of weeks.
Today we harvested horseradish in the garden. When you harvest you re-plant almost immediately to ensure that you will never run out of horseradish and here in East Africa also because you don't want to loose a rare and valuable plant. The horseradish you harvest will provide you with the material you need for planting. You can use side shoots that you cut off the main roots or you just re-plant those which were too small for harvesting.
Sort the horseradish you have harvested by size. Anything thicker than a pencil or small finger can be used. Cut off the tops and discard. Separate the smaller horseradishes and put aside.
Those thinner than a pencil are too small for processing. They are used for re-planting. In case you have no small ones or too few you can also cut thin side shoots of the horseradishes you harvested, and use those for re-planting.
Horseradish needs good, deep soil, rich in nutrients. It will exhaust the soil over time and although it can be grown as a perennial crop in the same spot for years is better harvested and transplanted annually. Loosen the soil to 1 meter deep and add lots of compost. Additions of some wood ash and rock phosphate are also advisable. Choose a warm spot in full light. pH requirements for horseradish are between 6.0 - 6.8.
If you can't re-plant the small plantlets immediately keep them in a cold and dark place or wrap them in a damp cloth for a while to avoid that they dry out too much. If you are using side shoots ensure you lay them out in a way that you know which end is the top as they only sprout from the end where they were cut off from the main root.
For a household 3 - 5 horseradish plants are plenty. For commercial growing around 7500 plantlets per acre are needed.
Lay the plantlets out in small furrows in such a way that the top of the plantlet is about 3 -5 cm deep in the soil, while the end tip is 6 - 10 cm deep in the soil. They are planted somehow horizontally, but not completely. Cover tem with soil. They should be watered in with diluted liquid fertilizer made from comfrey to encourage fast growth. After about 2 weeks, when the shoots have started growing, the plantlets are 'lifted' 1 cm with a sharp jerk at the crown. This will stop secondary roots from growing and the main root can develop to a satisfying size.
Ensure good drainage but keep the soil slightly moist at all times. After 12 weeks an application of homemade liquid fertilizer is advisable.
Top planted slightly higher than the tip
Time of Sowing/Transplanting
In East Africa it can generally be grown year round. Best though planted during the small rains. Harvested and re-planted once a year.
1 m between rows x 60 cm within the row. In a garden they can be planted closer together as root size is not so important.
9 - 12 months
Roots as a condiment
Pests and Diseases
Flea beetle and spider mite are the only pests I have observed on horseradish in East Africa so far. Flea beetle is a typical drought pest and can be controlled by keeping the soil surface moist. Very typical diseases for horseradish are white rust and leafspot, which can cause considerable damage to the leaves, but have very little influence on the root. Use disease free plantlets to avoid infection with diseases and control outbreaks with copper spray.
Anja Weber is the chairperson of Mama Chakula Foundation, a members' organisation dedicated to rural transformation through education & exchange; honouring old principals while embracing new technologies. She came to East Africa in 1997, when she set up the food processing units at Irente Farm. She has since worked as manager for different companies in East Africa.