What is Horseradish?

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The International Herb Association proclaimed horseradish as the Herb of the year in 2011 on the recommendation of Dr. Christopher who revealed that this herb was extremely good for treating sinus infections and carry antibiotic properties that can combat the onset of bacterial diseases in the body. The plant is rich in sulphur. It is a perennial plant that can grow to a height of 3feet. The flowers are hermaphrodite and bloom from May to June. The pollination takes place through beetles, bees, and flies. Requires hardy to zone 5, medium (loam), light (sandy) or heavy (clay) well drained soil for growth. The seeds, roots, and leaves of horseradish are edible.

 

 

 

What is classification of horseradish?

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Armoracia
Species: A. rusticana

 

 

How can you grow Horseradish?

It belongs to the same family as the cabbage and broccoli and the same kinds of pests will attack it such as the green caterpillars. 

Grow from: It is fairly easy to grow this plant. It is grown from root cuttings and not seeds. It can be grown outside and need not be grown indoors at first. One can grow it even from a store bought horseradish root. However if you don't dig up the roots after harvesting, you will have a lot more of the plants next spring as it can go wild. To plant a new root, dig around 1 foot hole in width and deep as your shovel and loosen the soil in the hole. Plant the root at an angle of 45degrees and cover the soil so that its just a little below the surface, water the root. As the dirt settles down you can add some compost in the space.

Sun factor: full sun

Soil: Versatile and grows anywhere. Ideal with a pH of 5.5-7

How tall: Upto 3ft tall and 18" wide.

Where to grow: Containers are ideal as it is easier to control them, otherwise can grow easily and take over the landscape.

Harvest: The time to harvest depends on whether you like the strong flavor or the mild flavor. If mild, then harvest before the frost in spring, otherwise after the frost to get the best flavor.

 

 

 

What is the history of horseradish?

  • The plant finds mention in Greek mythology in which Apollo is told by Delphic Oracle that horseradish was as important as gold. It was called wild radish or raphonos agrios by the Greeks.
  • In Egypt it was used during 1500 B.C. Eminent scientist of those times, Discorides has categorized horseradish under Persicon or Thlapsi while Cato has mentioned horseradish in the treatises about agriculture.
  • A mural in Pompeii also shows the existence of horseradish during those times.
  • It is believed that the plant mentioned by Pliny the Elder under the name of Amoracia in his Natural History is most probably horseradish that was stipulated to have medicinal properties. 
  • The herbalists of early Renaissance period (John Gerard and Pietro Andrea Mattioli) categorized it under Raphanus
  • In those days both its roots and leaves were used for curing various ailments and especially in the Middle Ages in Scandinavia, Britain and Germany roots of horseradish was used on meats as condiment

 

 

 

How is Horseradish cultivated?

Horseradish can be grown as annual plant in all the zones except from 2 to 9 hardiness zones where it can be grown only as a perennial plant. It thrives best in zones where winters are not frosty and allow the plants to continue their normal growing process. When the leaves are killed during frost, the roots are dug and divided into sections. The main root is retained as harvest, and the other off shoots coming from the main root are planted again to gain crop the next year. If you do not dig out the root, horseradish multiples and grows on its own under the ground and can  invade unwanted territories of your garden or crop section. Older plants can be used for replanting by dividing but old roots become stubborn and woody and are of no use.

 

 

What are the chemical constituents of horseradish?

Singrin and Myrosin: The plant or roots of horseradish do not exude pungent odor unless it is broken. When it is bruised or scraped it starts emanating pungent odor and carries hot and bitter-sweet taste. It contains Sinigrin, a type of crystalline glucoside that gets decomposed when it comes in contact with the enzyme –Myrosin in presence of water. Myrosin and Sinigrin are present in different cells of the roots and only when the fresh root is scraped they come together to give rise to a volatile oil, allyl isothiocyanate.

Pungent odor: The Myrosin content gives the oil pungent odor and diffusalbe property. It is so concentrated that one small drop can odorize a complete room. The volatile strength of the root is lost on exposure to atmosphere. The root of horseradish has other coponds such as, starch, gum, acetates, albumin, sugar and resin.

 

 

What are the benefits of Horseradish?

Different parts of horseradish are used for various purposes.

  • Culinary use: Leaves of this plant are used in salads and the grated roots are used in pickled beetroot, coleslaw, dips, and mayonnaise, cream cheese and avocado fillings. Horseradish sauce is usually served with smoked or oily fish, chicken, salad dressing, hard boiled eggs, and sauces and as a condiment with beef. The horseradish root is used by warming gently. Too much of cooking destroys its pungency for which it is basically used.
  • Lightens Freckles: A facepack made by infusing grated roots into milk is known to lighten freckles and make the skin clear.
  • Many uses for treating minor ailments: The root of horseradish is beneficial in appetite loss, neuralgia, hyperthyroidism, cough, excessive mucus, respiratory infections, influenza, fevers, and tumors of skin and internal, sinus problem, edema, chilblains, circulation, urinary infections, and rheumatic joints. It is good for digestion and eases gripping pain.
  • Deworming: Leaves are used to dispel worms and for improving tone of the body. 
  • Sinus Cavity clearing: Freshly made horseradish pulp can be mixed with lemon juice and if half a teaspoon is taken every day between meals, it can help dissolve mucus in the sinus cavities. But this has to be continued for a few weeks until you no longer feel the pungent sensation of horseradish when you eat it.

 


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