Healing Effects of Horseradish?
I enjoy eating horseradish. Are there any health benefits associated with it?
I'm also a fan of horseradish -- and as a matter of fact, I just finished making a fresh batch. I hope you grind your own horseradish, since the homemade version is so much better -- and has considerably more kick than the prepared stuff you get in jars. In addition, powerful fumes are released when you grate or grind fresh horseradish roots. The fumes are like tear gas in high concentration, but small whiffs clear your sinuses and can actually thin secretions in the upper respiratory tract, which can be very helpful to people with asthma, bronchitis, or sinus conditions. The horseradish root also has antiseptic and stimulant properties and is considered an aid to digesting rich and oily foods.
You can buy horseradish roots in some supermarkets, but if you're a real fan of horseradish, you might consider growing it in your garden. It is a perennial plant (and a member of the mustard family) that can be grown almost anywhere, including the tropics. Keep horseradish roots in an airtight container in the refrigerator -- they should last for four to six weeks (and six months or longer in the freezer.) When you're ready to grind them, peel off the outer skin. The inside should be creamy white -- the whiter the flesh, the fresher the root.
Be sure to grind or grate horseradish in a well-ventilated room. If you're using a food processor (recommended), dice the horseradish into small cubes and process no more than half a container at a time. Some instructions for processing horseradish call for covering the blades with cold water or crushed ice -- after processing, pour off the water.
Once you've finished grinding the root, add enough white vinegar until you get a consistency you like, and salt to taste. If you like your horseradish very hot, wait a few minutes after processing before adding the vinegar. If you prefer a milder taste, add the vinegar immediately after grinding. Keep prepared horseradish in a tightly capped jar in the refrigerator; its strength will decrease with time.
I like to use fresh horseradish as a sauce for cold poached fish, with smoked salmon, and on cheese sandwiches. It can also be added to sauces for seafood, poultry, and meat. (For a great condiment, mix prepared horseradish to taste with low-fat sour cream.) When you use it in cooked sauces, be sure to add it at the very end of the cooking process, since heat will reduce the pungency.
By the way, wasabi, the green Japanese horseradish which is often served with sushi, is also great stuff!