by Daphne Lambert
There's no better time of year than the dark colder months of winter to benefit from the pungent, fiery nature of horseradish.
Horseradish is a perennial plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family and has many health benefits.
Allyl isothiocyanate, the oil responsible for the pungent taste of horseradish, has potent antimicrobial and antibacterial capabilities. Because of the antibiotic properties of horseradish, it has been used for many years in herbal medicine to treat bronchitis, sinusitis, cough and the common cold.
Phytochemicals in horseradish activate gastric and intestinal juices which can be a beneficial aid to digestion and can relieve both constipation and diarrhoea. The glycoside sinigrin, found in horseradish acts as a natural diuretic, which can help to prevent kidney and urinary tract infections.
Once planted in the garden this hardy plant can become invasive so you might want to exercise caution if you only have a small garden. Fortunately you can easily forage for horseradish as it grows throughout much of the UK. It is well worth seeking out this powerful, circulatory stimulant, on waste ground, near riverbanks and grassy footpaths, where the large shiny green leaves are instantly recognizable.
Fresh horseradish can be fermented into a wonderful potent horseradish ferment to perk up winter meals. Alternatively just a small amount of horseradish can be added to a mixed ferment (see below)
BUT EXERCISE CAUTION
The oils in horseradish are extremely volatile when you grate or cut the flesh and sting your eyes.
Grate horseradish under a cloth to protect your eyes.
Dried horseradish can be used to make immunity tonics or added to winter teas.
The young spicy, slightly bitter green leaves can also be eaten
Beetroot, apple and horseradish relish
3 cooking apples, cored and grated
3 beetroot, peeled and grated
4 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon sauerkraut juice (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together and pack into a jar
Press down well to produce enough liquid to cover the mixture
Place a weight on top to keep everything submerged. Cover loosely with a cloth to keep flies out. Leave to ferment for 7 days in a warm place away from direct sunlight.
Taste to see if it is tangy enough, if not allow to ferment a little longer.
Remove weight, loosely fix a lid, refrigerate & start using.