Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

25 Days of Herbs and Celebrations - December 9

Dear Folks,

Celebrating the Multicultural festivities of December, I thought I would pick an herb or spice which is referenced in the Bible (land of three of the Major Religions of the world) and used in many cuisines around the entire world, as a way of gathering together all the wealth of diversity around us - in true celebration.

Day 9
Herb: Horseradish
(Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) a member of the mustard and cabbage family.
Hanukkah  Continues
Horseradish, like other bitter herbs, is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but in modern times is used as a component of them.
Probably native to Southeast Europe and Western Asia, it is naturalized around the world, and what a good thing that is, for its wonderful additions to flavor and spicy up our food.

Planting and Harvesting:  Horseradish can be grown in our desert gardens, but the planting and harvest times are reversed.  It took me a couple of seasons to get this figured out.  Plant in the fall to late Winter and harvest in late spring/early June.  It takes a couple of years to get to a good enough size root to harvest, but you can use some of the peppery leaves anytime they are lush.  Just don’t harvest too many – you want the leaves to feed those roots!  Leave some roots in the ground for next years growth.   Pictured is my plant this September, lush and green, and a harvest several years ago in June.  Note:  The roots won’t grow as huge as you may find in the grocery store, but they are just as good tasting.
Food:  Roots and leaves are eaten.  The leaves make a nice peppery addition to salads or stir-frys and will add a bit, but not a lot of, heat as a shredded green to soups and stews.
The roots are not hot until you cut or grate them and then get ready.  Some chefs like to thinly slice over food.  The most common preparation is grated, with a bit of vinegar and cold water.
The recipe I use to grate horseradish is from the Globalgourmet site.  Important:  As soon as you start to cut and grate the horseradish the spicy heat rises, the enzymes released.  Grind/grate with, into cold water, just enough to make a paste.  As soon as you add the vinegar it stops the enzymes and the heat-point stops there.  So the idea is to add the vinegar at the point you like the “bite”.  Then store in the refrigerator or freezer.  There are additional recipes on the site.

Since Horseradish is used at meals during Hanukkah, here are a couple of recipe ideas.
Horseradish Applesauce Note:  This would be wonderful with latkes (potato pancakes)
Some Cool Holiday Songs to Contrast with the Horseradish!
Let It Snow.

A modern Hanukkah Song 
The Maccabeats - Candlelight - Hanukkah

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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