Horseradish: 2011 Herb of the Year

Horseradish, the leafy plant, and its root.

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana, is a perennial plant that comes from the same family as mustard and cabbage. It can reach 1.5 meters in height and is mainly cultivated for its root that is used as a condiment for meat or fish.
Besides the root, almost all the constituents of this plant can be used by man in order to release pain or to treat health disorders, as horseradish is a very efficient herbal plant. Raw leaves of horseradish pressed against the forehead can chase away almost instantly headache, the root cures tonsillitis, while the tea made from horseradish flowers can treat the most serious cold and flu. Indians used to chew the horseradish root to escape toothaches and it was used as a natural medicine to treat scurvy.

The spicy root of horseradish can be used as a natural treatment against rheumatic disorders and respiratory disorders. Juice or sauce extracted from horseradish root can release sinus infections by dissolving the mucus in the nose. (Ever taste a spoonful that brought tears to your eye?) Due to its antibiotic properties, horseradish can cure urinary tract infections and kill bacteria in the throat that cause bronchitis, coughs and related problems. It is so beneficial because it is laden with a high amount of vitamin C and B complex, nutritive minerals (potassium, calcium, iron), natural antibiotics, enzymes etc.

In the kitchen, the pungent root of horseradish adds assertive flavor to all types of dishes from cocktails to dessert. An essential ingredient to a proper Bloody Mary, but, the most popular use of horseradish is in cocktail sauce. Made from ketchup and grated prepared horseradish, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon juice, this sauce is used as an accompaniment for shrimp, bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels and with breaded or battered fried fish. Try embellishing simple ho-hum tartar sauce with horseradish for an uplifting zing! Fold freshly grated horseradish into just-whipped cream for a regal accompaniment to roast beef.

The early, small tender leaves have a pleasant flavor with just a touch of pungency and can be added to salads.

You can mix fresh grated or prepared horseradish with fresh beets, mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese – and mustards to make them more piquant – embellish with chopped herbs such as garlic, parsley, chives, tarragon, basil, paprika, or a pinch of sugar or a dash of lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Lastly, dried horseradish leaves yield a yellow dye!

Article resource: Softpedia and IHA.

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