I’m a huge fan of Horseradish. Like dill, just the smell of it makes me hungry and when you look at the medicinal benefits, they are both used to increase appetite!
Before chillies were brought over from Portugal, it was horseradish that separated the men from the boys. It has a completely different heat to chillies – chillie heat sticks to the tougue with it’s potent barbs – horseradish heat comes from chemical compounds being crushed together and so affects your sinuses rather than your tongue! No surprise then, that horseradish has been used for centuries to cure sinus problems.
During the 18th century, the most popular documented way to get rid of a sinus infection was to put 1/4 tsp of freshly grated horseradish on your tongue and ‘hold it in your mouth until all the flavour is gone’. It goes on to say that ‘this will immediately cut through the infected mucus and let it drain down the throat. This will relieve the pressure in your sinuses and help clear infection.’ ! I’ve never tried this remedy- it makes sense – but if you’ve ever peeled and grated fresh horseradish root, you’ll know that the smell affects your eyes and nose far more than any strong raw onions, so I think I’d only try it as an absolute last resort…
Now’s the time for you to look out for horseradish growing wild. It’s easy to spot if you know what Dock leaves look like, they’re very similar. If you’re unsure, rip a piece of the leaf off and give it a smell. You’ll know immediately whether it’s Dock or Horseradish, the leaves have the same delicious fragrance as the root.
After the first few cold nights, the soft green leaves will rapidly turn brown and die back, which means that the leaf markers won’t be there any more. So when you’ve found your horseradish plant, make sure that you mark it with something like a painted stick or stone so that when you come back to dig up your root, if the leaves have vanished you’ll still know where to start digging.
Horseradish Greens as a side dish
Most people know that horseradish root tastes amazing with most roast or baked things (including roast beetroot – yum!), but what a lot of people don’t know is that the leaves of the horseradish are delicious too. Horseradish greens are an absolute delight prepared simply or used in a stir fry. They have an irony rich cabbage flavour, but are quite pokey with a horseradish mustardy taste.
It’s best to select the newest leaves from the centre of the plant (the outer ones are completely edible, but tougher and more irony) and just take as many as you need for your dinner, they don’t freeze well.
Prepare them as you would spring greens, by cutting out any tough central ribs and chopping into pieces.
Steam them for no longer than 5 minutes and then stir in a knob of butter, some salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg.
If you’re new to Horseradish greens, it might be a good idea to mix them with a cabbage of your choice as an introduction to their amazing flavour. The next time you cook them – you’ll want them ‘neat’!
You can also use the leaves as a wrapper for Dolmades or to wrap pre-cooked vegetables in a cheese sauce, or rice mixtures before being baked in foil in the oven. The Horseradish leaves impart a delicate flavour to their contents.
If you’re only going to try one new thing during the next week, make it Horseradish Greens!