Horseradish is a plant usually cultivated for its root that is used as a spice and a condiment. Find out how to harvest horseradish with us!
1. What is Horseradish?
The Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) plant belongs to the Brassicaceae family and is native to Russia and Hungary. It grows up to the height of 2 feet (60 cm) to 3 feet (90 cm) in length. It has a vibrant green colour and the plant is decorated by tall flower stalks on which beautiful white-coloured flowers grow. The white flowers are often seen in a cone-like arrangement on the top of the stalk together.
The plant is leafy in appearance, it has large, coarse and deeply lobed leaves that all stem from the central stem. These plants are perennial which means they are short-lived. They live up to around two years.
The horseradish plants are typically grown and cultivated for their root, thus it is often called root vegetable. The root of a horseradish plant is long and tapered. The root’s colour is beige or light brown on the outside and white on the inside. The texture of the root is dry, bumpy and coarse. It is irregular in shape.
The horseradish root is known and recognized by its pungent smell and pungent taste. It has a taste that may even be called unpleasant yet it is used as a condiment for dishes in which its spicy, distinct taste can go well. The roots of this plant are often grated, minced or pickled when used along with dishes. The root is also distinguished for its potential medicinal properties. Several ongoing pieces of research show that horseradish may possess a handful of important medicinal values.
2. Nutritional Value and Benefits of Horseradish
According to Healthline, one tablespoon (15 grams) of prepared horseradish provides:
- Calories: 7
- Protein: less than 1 gram
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 2 grams
- Fibre: 0.5 gram
Although horseradish is only consumed in small amounts, it has a lot of health benefits. We will explore the health benefits and the nutritional benefits of the horseradish in this section. It is important to note that a lot of these benefits are under research and there is no concrete conclusion yet.
2.1 Acts as An Antioxidant
Horseradish has compounds like glucosinolates and isothiocyanates which possess antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage.
Allyl isothiocyanate is an oil that is released when the horseradish root is cut, it is believed to have antibacterial properties. Studies indicate that it can combat several infection-causing harmful bacteria such as E. coli, H. pylori, and Salmonella. Test-tube studies showed that isothiocyanates from horseradish eliminated mouth bacteria and also stopped fungi growth that causes nail infections. The mechanism behind such a result is still unknown, research is ongoing about the isothiocyanates present in the root.
2.2. Anti-Inflammatory Potential
Some studies show that some components of horseradish may have anti-inflammatory potential. They aid in the treatment of inflammation and several infections. Acute sinusitis, bronchitis, and urinary bladder infection are a few infections that may be aided with horseradish.
2.3. Potentially Cures Sinus and Helps Respiratory Problems
Horseradish’s pungent compounds can help clear congestion and promote respiratory health when consumed or used topically. Horseradish is helpful in case of cold and sinus. The high levels of sulphur help to clear sinus passages mucus.
2.4. Anticancer Properties
Several researches and studies have found that horseradish may have anticancer properties.
Preliminary research believes that horseradish has an enzyme that might make it easier to produce anticancer drugs. Agricultural Research Service scientists have also found a method that can use the enzyme horseradish peroxidase to make anticancer drugs called chlorins.
Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in horseradish can also hinder cancer cell growth and promote cell death. Certain compounds like sinigrin also function as antioxidants, they counter cell damage from free radicals, which can contribute to disease risk, including cancer.
2.5. Diuretic & May Help With Urinary Infections
Horseradish also exhibits some diuretic properties. It helps to promote the formation of urine, which is very important as it regularly removes toxins and waste from the body.
Sinigrin is a glycoside found in horseradish that may prevent urinary infections and even decrease the risk of developing kidney stones because it can stimulate blood capillaries.
2.6. Helps Alleviate Pain
Horseradish is also seen as a pain reliever as it stimulates blood flow. Applying horseradish over areas that show symptoms of arthritis, chilblains and gout. It can also be helpful in joint and muscle aches.
2.7. Good for the Immune System
Its anti-inflammatory activity and antioxidant properties protect from infections and such. In addition, it also has a good content of Vitamin C which protects from viral infections as it is a strong antioxidant itself. Vitamin C is also essential for skin health, and healing of wounds. Thus, it strengthens our immune system as well.
2.8. Helps Digestive Activity
Horseradish has certain phytochemicals that stimulate glands that are highly involved in the digestion process such as gastric, intestinal and salivary glands. These glands facilitate digestion thus, horseradish helps in the digestion process as well.
2.9. Teeth Health
Horseradish is often chewed on as it is seen as an aid for toothache, helps in making gums strong and even for scurvy or treating periodontosis.
2.10. Better Metabolism
It contains several essential vitamins like Vitamin B6, folate and vitamin C, and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These are essential for a good metabolism. Along with that, all of them have their capabilities.
Folate is essential for cell division and the synthesis of DNA in the body. Vitamin B6 is important for brain development and brain function, as well as for the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
It is also considered a dietary fibre as it promotes good gut health and a feeling of fullness.
3. How To Harvest Horseradish?
3.1. Understanding Requirements
To harvest a crop or plant, it is first important to know the requirements for the survival of the plant and then choose the correct time, place and conditions for growing it.
For the horseradish plant, the growing conditions are as follows:
- Soil: The soil should be fertile, loamy and slightly acidic to neutral in terms of pH.
- Sun: The horseradish plant thrives in full or partial sun. Sunlight is essential for this plant. At least six hours of direct sunlight is recommended for the plant.
- Climate: Horseradish plant grows well in temperate climates and also in cold regions in tropical environments. It is preferred to plant horseradish in the spring season so that it can be harvested in the fall or the months before winter.
- Temperature: A temperature ranging from 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for growing horseradish.
Note that horseradish is a vigorous plant, it may spread throughout the place you grow it. Thus, it is preferred to grow horseradish in containers.
Horseradish is usually planted by using root pieces called sets instead of being sown by seeds because it does produce seeds in most regions and the growing season is not long enough to sow. You may buy the horseradish root sets from a plant supplier.
To plant horseradish plants:
- Take a container, it should have a depth of at least 30 inches for the roots to be accommodated.
- Fill the container with soil, unglazed soil is recommended for the soil mixture as it helps maintain proper moisture in the soil.
- Lay the root sets at an angle of 45 degrees at least 3 to 4 inches deep.
- Usually, the lower end is sliced diagonally to indicate a downward slant, this prevents multiple sprouts from coming out of a single set.
- Cover the root with topsoil.
3.3. Taking Care of The Horseradish Plant
This is the most important step, it determines whether your plant will survive or not and how well it yields.
- Watering: Horseradish plants require a moderate amount of water. Too little water will make the roots hard and too much water will make them soft with a very strong flavour. So, the plant will require only around 1 to 2 inches of water every week.
- Manure: Compost or vegetable fertilizer can be used at the time of planting and then every four weeks. Mulching the soil with compost, bark, and gravel also protects them from frost and weeds.
- Pest: Horseradish is a very resilient plant, it doesn’t face a lot of pests and diseases. But insects like aphids and flea beetles can feed on their leaves. And root rot may happen if the roots receive excess water. To avoid this, preventive measures should be taken.
- Propagating: Using harvested roots to regrow the horseradish plants is a common and effective practice. You can do that by taking root pieces that are at least 8 inches long. Cut them straight across the top and diagonally across the bottom to distinguish sides. Clean the cuts and let them dry. Store them in moist sand where they are not exposed to sunlight. Replant the roots in spring when the soil is workable again.
To harvest the root follow the following simple steps:
- Dig a trench along one side of the plant.
- On the opposite side, use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the roots of the plant carefully in the soil.
- Grasp the tops of the horseradish plant and pull them out of the soil.
- Trim the foliage until an inch of it is left.
- Cut off the side and the bottom part of the roots, only the rest of the root is useful.
- The roots which are at least 8 inches long can be stored to be replanted next season.
To store the roots of the horseradish plant, clean them thoroughly first. Once they are dry, you may store them in a dark cellar in damp sand. For short-term use, you may store a small quantity of the roots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few months.
Hope this article helps you figure out how you may proceed with harvesting horseradish! Wishing you a happy harvest.