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Horseradish Harvest

hrbed.JPGAs I previously mentioned, I find horseradish to be a surprisingly elegant addition to our garden. Toward the end of the summer, however, the horseradish bed starts to appear a little worse for the wear. Some of the tall dark green leaves have become a little beat up looking. We usually trim those off and toss them in the compost up to the time to harvest.

This year we decided to harvest the horseradish on a balmy October day. I believe it might be the earliest date we’ve dug up the horseradish. One year the time slipped by and I found myself digging a couple of roots in December so that we could have fresh horseradish with the Christmas roast; fortunately the ground wasn’t frozen yet! That effort will not be necessary this year because we already have our own very potent horseradish sauce prepared.

hrharvest.JPGWe find it easier to dip up the horseradish roots with a two-person team. Jim likes to use a garden fork to loosen the dirt because there’s also less chance to chopping into the root and damaging it. I gather up the leaves in a bundle and pull. We try to get as much of the root as possible, but often some is left behind. That’s no problem because I think it likely grows up again next year.

The bare roots look a little unwelcoming but they aren’t really that much work. Outdoors is a good place to begin to clean them. I like to take off the leaves and rub down the roots to remove as much loose dirt as possible. Then put the roots in a bucket of water to soak. Swish them around and change the water a few times.

roots.JPGWhen the roots are reasonably clean, I bring them into the kitchen. Cut away the ends, trying to retain as much of the thick center part as possible. Then use a kitchen scraper to peel off the skin. It’s easier than you might think. You’ll end up with some crisp white roots like these:

hrshred.JPGNow comes the most challenging part of preparation: shredding. The roots aren’t all that hard to work with if you have a good shredder. My implement of choice is a handy stainless steel file type shredder. (Here’s an example of a nice one: Cuisipro Fine Rasp ) The fumes are the real hazard. Fresh horseradish is fragrant! This is a nice time to have a hardy helper or two to spell you off. Our daughter was very excited about the horseradish and so she was willing to pitch in. Shred as much as you can and then take a fresh air break!

We store our finished product in canning jars. Add enough vinegar to moisten the contents of the jar. Serve as is with roasted meats or on sandwiches. For a milder variation, you can mix the prepared horseradish with sour cream, in proportions to your liking.

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