Horseradish, a root crop, grown for the pungent flavor can be made into relish at home. The roots contain highly volatile oils with a sharp flavor. Chemical enzyme activity releases the oils when you crush the root cells.
- Dig roots when they reach full size, after early fall frosts or in the early spring before new growth starts.
- If you can't prepare roots immediately, hold them in a cold bin, such as in a root cellar, or in a tightly covered jar or ziplock freezer bag in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Return a section of the root to the soil to grow next year's crop.
- For hot horseradish, use fresh roots. A good quality root is clean, firm and free from cuts and blemishes.
Work outside or in a well-ventilated room. Peel the fresh roots. Sliced roots and prepared horseradish are creamy white. As processed horseradish ages, it darkens and loses its pungency. In time, off-flavor may develop.
Grind fresh horseradish with a meat grinder or blender in a well-ventilated room. The fumes from grinding are potent - one whiff may be stronger than you expect!
To grate horseradish, wash and peel the root as you would a potato and dice it into small cubes. Place the cubes in the blender jar. Process no more than half a container, one load at a time. Completely cover the blades with cold water or crushed ice before you turn the blender on. If necessary, add more water or crushed ice to finish grinding. When done, pour off excess water.
When the mixture reaches the desired consistency, add white distilled vinegar of 5 percent strength. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/2-teaspoon salt for each cup of grated horseradish. Substitute lemon juice for a slightly different flavor.
The time when you add the vinegar is important. Vinegar stops the enzymatic action and stabilizes the hotness. If you prefer milder horseradish, add the vinegar immediately. If you like horseradish as hot as it can be, wait 3 minutes before adding vinegar.
Place mixture in 1/2-pint glass jars and screw lids on firmly. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Drying will not produce a successful product.