It’s creeping towards the start of the freezy winter months and all things warming and spicy are the order of the season. We’ve just been digging up horseradish root with our apprentices in preparation for the winter roots weekend in November. Its a hot herb of Mars.
Eva discovers hidden hot treasures beneath the ground
Horseradish is really circulatory and stimulating. It is so hot that when you chop it up, the enzymes release mustard oil into the atmosphere and sting your eyes. I was wearing goggles to chop it yesterday. When you chew a small amount, once the heat has subsided, has a distinct bitter taste which is responsible for encouraging the digestion by stimulating the liver and pancreas. Great for helping to digest rich meat dishes!
It is said that the oracle of Delphi said to Apollo that Horseradish is worth its weight in gold. She was right; it’s a hugely valuable plant both medicinally and as a condiment.
We use it as part of our Ache Ease balm to bring circulation to a damaged or inflammed joint or as a rub for tired achey muscles. As you've heard it can be very irritant so it is best to mix with some other oils. In our Ache Ease Balm we also use comfrey and heather oil.
Making Horseradish oil
Chop it up as thinly and as small as possible soon after harvesting. If you wait too long and it becomes too dry and it is nearly impossible to chop. This time I placed the chopped pieces into a brown paper bag and in the airing cupboard for 3 to 4 days to get most of the moisture out. If you put the root in the oil still moist, the oil will go rancid.
Horseradish slices in almond oil
It then goes into a clean jar and covered in oil. Almond oil is our oil of choice but any oil will do. Olive is thicker with more smell, grape seed very light. As it starts to mix and absorb the oil, the horseradish releases sulphurous gasses which you see as bubbles rising to the surface of the oil. Every couple of days its important to release the lid to let the eggy gasses out....After 2 weeks you can strain the horseradish out of the oil through a muslin cloth and store your oil to combine with other oils of your choice.
We have kept a big lump of the root back to use in stews and on sandwiches. The root needs to be kept wrapped up so that the air doesn’t get to it (this stops it from loosing its spicy volatile oils and going bitter) and stored in the fridge. It can just be taken out and a small amount grated into stews or sandwiches.
After harvesting we planted fennel seeds and gave thanks
Charli lovin' the horseradish