Question: I'm trying to get information about preserving horseradish. I ground some fresh horseradish from the market and it was flat in 24 hours. Now I'm growing my own and need any advice you can give me about this vegetable.
Answer: In "Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables" (Harper & Row, 1986), Elizabeth Schneider explains that unless horseradish is being added to a sauce or preserved in vinegar, "it should be grated directly on the food soon before eating or its volatile flavor will dissipate (and the shreds will brown)." Preceding her recipe for prepared horseradish, she advises: "Home-prepared horseradish is firmer, more aromatic, and sharper than the bottled product. Do not stock up on it, though, as it loses its character with storage."
Those not choosing to grow their own will find horseradish root available in most produce sections just about any time of year. Choose roots that are exceptionally hard, and free of spongy or soft spots. Avoid sprouting, greenish-tinged horseradish, which may have a bitter layer that requires deep paring.
To store the fresh root, Schneider suggests wrapping it in a slightly dampened piece of toweling, then a dry one. Kept in the refrigerator, it should last for a few weeks if fresh when purchased. If softness or mold spots develop, scrape them off, omit the dampened towel and return to the refrigerator.
Peel the skin from just the amount of horseradish to be used at one time. Cutting a cross section will enable you to see the layer that needs to be removed. Root with a greenish color requires deeper paring; pale beige horseradish needs only shallow peeling. Grate with a very sharp metal grater or in a food processor.
In "Fancy Pantry" (Workman Publishing, 1986) Helen Witty gives these instructions for freezing horseradish: "Scrape fresh roots clean; wrap them airtight in plastic or foil freezer wrap and freeze them. Grate a portion of the unthawed root as needed."
1/4 pound fresh horseradish
1/2 cup vinegar, about
1 teaspoon oil
Peel horseradish and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place 1/4 cup vinegar and oil in food processor container fitted with metal blade. Add horseradish cubes and process to desired texture, adding vinegar, 1 tablespoon at time, as needed.
Stir in salt and sugar. Refrigerate in glass jar, tightly covered. Makes about 1 cup.
Note: Distilled white, rice or white wine vinegar may be used. Horseradish keeps for weeks, but is zestiest when fresh.