How to Grow: Horseradish

Learn how to grow horseradish and uses for it in the kitchen.

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This common vegetable dates back to ancient Greece where it was used medically for back pain and as an aphrodisiac. The German word for it is meeratish or sea radish. The English mispronounced the word to as mare radish and eventually started calling it horse radish.

Ancient Greeks love horseradish. They’d say “the radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold.” We use this pungent root in mashed potatoes, cocktail sauces, or with lemon on fish and asparagus. You only need a little to have an effect.

While horseradish sauces abound in the grocery store, the flavor is much better from home grown roots and it’s easy to grow.

Horseradish grows best in full sun on all but water logged soils. Plant where you won’t be moving it. The biggest trouble with horseradish is stopping it from growing. The plant slowly expands over time. Never till it or throw roots in the compost pile, or you’ll have horseradish everywhere.

Plant horseradish in spring placing a 4 to 6 inch long root in the soil at a 45 degree angle about 2 inches deep. Keep watered and by the next year you can start harvesting. Harvest in fall removing part or the whole plant, saving pieces for eating and replanting. You can clean and freeze the horseradish root for later use, or blend it up with vinegar and salt to store in the refrigerator for a few months. To moderate horseradish’s pungency, add vinegar. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons or white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt for each cup of horseradish as you blend it. For higher pungency, wait 3 minutes, then add vinegar.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.