Mondays are always good days for a “Who would’ve thought?” story.
Back in May I took a trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and spent a Tuesday afternoon browsing the newly planted gardens. I remember taking this photo while I was there and wondering who on this green Earth decides the Herb of the Year?
Sure enough, there’s an International Herb Association, who selects the Herb of the Year for special celebration and promotion. 2011 happens to be the Year of Horseradish. Who would’ve thought? Horseradish and I don’t have a strong prior relationship, one mostly unscrewing the jar and turning my burning nose away from pungency. News flash. Horseradish demands to be taken seriously. Don’t and it can make your toes curl. Who would’ve thought one little root could pack more punch than the strongest of onions?
After sharing my Herb of the Year news this summer, it turns out my dad has grown a healthy crop of horseradish on one end of his garden for years. In all the time I lived there, he’s never done anything with it but let it grow as a bushy green perennial hedge. He eats the jarred, store-bought horseradish on everything, but never dug it up to make his own. Who would’ve thought, right? Earlier this month, I made my own batch of horseradish sauce to give to my dad.
It’s surprisingly easy, but does take some courage. Both the kitchen partner and I had to take turns between grating the raw roots and wiping our tears in the bathroom mirror. If you’ve got sinus troubles, grating horseradish is your ticket to decongestion. Add in a little salt and vinegar, pack it into a canning jar and toss it in the refrigerator or freezer. Homemade horseradish sauce, easy as that. Not sure where to find horseradish? Ask around at the farmers’ market and co-ops this weekend; growers dig the roots in early fall when the roots are at their largest. A dollar or two will buy you enough for a small batch and the right to tell everyone you know cooked with the Herb of the Year. Who would’ve thought?
Homemade Horseradish Sauce
Adapted from the Ball Book of Home Preserving
12 oz. fresh horseradish root, washed and peeled
1 C. vinegar
1/2 teaspoon canning salt
4 oz. canning jars with lids and rings
1. Using a fine grater/zester, grate the horseradish into a bowl (should be about 2 cups). Add vinegar and salt and stir well. Firmly pack into canning jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Secure lids and rings. Place in the refrigerator for three to four months or in the freezer for longer.