Fresh Horseradish

I forgot to mention the new addition to our Thanksgiving harvest traditions: horseradish!


A few days before Thanksgiving I went out and dug up a root of horseradish that we had planted back in the spring. As you can see, it's pretty big after a summer of growth. For comparison, the original root we planted was only about as big as the light brown offshoot that is second from the left of the main root. I only dug up this one piece, which was half of one plant. We have four. 

So yeah, that's way more horseradish than anyone needs.

I brushed off the dirt and let it sit on the counter, and on Thanksgiving we used it for Bloody Marys. Since we live a few states away from family, we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, cooking through the morning, taking a soccer break with the kids, and feasting in the afternoon. There are brunchy snacks while we cook, and this year we upped the ante with some Bloody Marys.

And let me tell you, they were pretty damn good. Totally worth the effort for some fresh horseradish.

So here's how you make it:

First, brush all the dirt off your root (that's easier when it dries than it is right out of the moist earth). Cut off a piece that's a manageable size to grate, and proceed to grate it (small holes, so it's finely shredded). It's harder to do than cheese, so you might switch hands or get helpers. Make a lot. 

The only trick here is that the longer you let the grated horseradish sit out in the air, the hotter it will be. Test it every now and then until it's as hot as you want it, then put it in a dish and pour a little bit of white vinegar over it – just enough to squish it down into a paste. I just eyeballed it so it would look how it does when you buy it. I don't have a picture because we drank our Bloody Marys up too quickly, but you know what prepared horseradish looks like anyway, right?

This is way better than when you buy it. It has a much stronger flavor, and it’s much more complex. It's kind of sweet, but also pungent, and without the vinegar, it had a slightly tongue-numbing after-effect that was kind of cool. 

Anyway, you can store leftovers in the fridge for a long time, though it loses its punch after a while. We gave away the leftover root, since there's plenty more where that came from (at least until the ground freezes up). I would probably prepare a bunch for the fridge, and store any leftover root like carrots (ideally in sand, but otherwise somewhere cool and not too dry). 

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