Oh Horseradish!

Spice Up Your Life

There are all kinds of ways that we can spice up our life. Some of it comes from tree bark, others come from various roots, beans, and other plant matter. Some of them even require a level of processing to make it edible. So, we are going to talk about a few herbs and spices that can upscale your nutritional and cooking needs.

Oh, Horseradish!

horseradishThe interesting thing about horseradish is that it is technically a member of the Brassicaceae family. The same family that I mentioned was responsible for things like cabbage and broccoli. One would not think that these were all connected with one another. However, once you realize that horseradish has the word “radish” in it, you start to see a clearer picture.

Horseradish is a root based plant that is often utilized as a spice for multiple condiments. It can grow practically in any cold climate with a hardiness range from 2-9 out of a range of 1-12. This plant is a perennial, and are known around the world for its culinary and medicinal benefits.

But what makes people like it so much? What gives it that specific flavor? Where does it come from?


The “roots” ( I apologize for that easy pun) of this vegetable go all the way back to Eastern Europe. Its ancestry is traceable all the way back to Russia and Hungary. The earliest written information about them dates back to Ancient Greek mythology, stating that their value is worth its weight in gold.  The sentiment of its value carried onward through the middle ages. This time, it had its uses as a medicinal herb and a condiment in Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany. It even made its way to the new world, mentioned in garden accounts by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Its had a long history and is still common for a condiment even today.

horseradishFlavor Profile

The compound that is responsible for the pungent taste is a compound known as allyl isothiocyanate. In English, it is a chemical compound that reacts to animals chewing the plant. The minute an animal chews the plant, the spicy chemical is released and it repels the animal.

It also does not give off a smell, thanks to the instability of the compound, which means the flavor will catch people by surprise when unaware.

The spice is so potent that most people only eat small grated amounts, and even then it is cut with something like vinegar or a cream base.

With that in mind, you might not want to handle it too much. Especially do not rub it in your eyes or have too much skin contact.

Medicinal Properties

However, it does not mean that there isn’t to benefit from horseradishes other than some new flavor. In fact, this is one piece of medieval medicine that was more accurate than most people realize.

It can:

  • Boost your Immune System
  • Help Control Pain
  • Improve Digestion
  • Lower Cancer Risk
  • Work as an Antibiotic
  • Clear Sinuses
  • Reduce Water Retention

A lot of these things are typical of a spice profile, like the sinus-clearing, and the pain control. However, to think that most people have already picked it up as something medicinal long before we could look into it really can make a person think about how there isn’t much difference in intelligence between now and hundreds of years ago.


Horseradish is a pretty interesting vegetable when you think about it. It has a top tier defense system, is good for your health, and has a rich history. This will be the first of a series of articles that will help expand your flavor profile outside of salt and pepper.

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