Dear Kid,

This is what horseradish could look like in our garden. It won't, but it could.... DearKidLoveMom.comI’ve been thinking about horseradish. I’ve been thinking that I should suggest to Dad that he grow horseradish in the garden, but I decided that I should probably do some Helpful Research before making this suggestion.

The problem (of course) is that my idea of helpful research and Dad’s idea of helpful research tend not be related. In fact, they are generally not even on the same branch of the conversational tree.

Horseradish is a root plant and is part of the mustard family. Remind me to do some Helpful Research on growing mustard—I’m a little unclear about what keeps the glass jars from breaking as they grow.

One harvests horseradish root in the spring and fall. The root (when harvested) has almost no aroma. It’s not until one grates it up that it turns spicy. Chemistry alert! During the grating or grinding of the root, volatile oils (known as isothiocyanates) are released. Once released, they run around like crazy getting hotter and hotter until vinegar is poured on them to stop the reaction and stabilize the flavor. Less time between grating and vinegar = less heat. More time = Dad turns bright red and his head explodes. Also the more finely ground the horseradish is the more heat there will be.

When horseradish turns brown-ish (rather than white-ish) you should probably toss it because it has lost most of its flavor.

It takes about 4 pounds of horseradish roots to make a gallon of prepared horseradish.

If you want to grow horseradish, you should add potash to the soil.

80% of US horseradish is grown in southern Illinois. Guess what they have a lot of in their soil?

Horseradish leaves are edible. It’s amazing how “edible” and “delicious” are not interchangeable.

Some people believe rubbing horseradish on your forehead relieves headaches. It certainly can’t hurt, but I think I’ll stick to modern drugs. It is also sometimes used topically to treat wounds and sore joints and ingested to treat urinary tract infections and breathing problems. Who knew?

Happy Horseradish.

Love, Mom