My dad is an afficianado of horseradish, we always had it with beef or pork roast, when I was a child. I didn’t see it in many other households that I remember. We grew it and would grate the roots, combining them with vinegar and sometimes with grated beets (much milder that way).

The fumes from the grating could bring more tears than any onion I ever ran into!

Horseradish was one of the five bitter herbs (along with coriander, horehound, lettuce, and nettle) eaten historically during the feast of the Passover; in present times, horseradish is still commonly used in the Passover Seder.

Horseradish is a member of the same family as cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.: the Cruciferae family. It is not cold sensitive and can be planted early in the spring, to be harvested in early summer. You plant it from root starts, and it grows very well in normal garden soil with little care. Each fall you can dig up the established roots, divide them, and increase your harvest the following year if need be. Fresh horseradish is an altogether different experience than storebought; the pungency and bite are the same, but the taste is fresher and sweeter. Ocassionaly, you will need to replant the bed by digging up the plants and dividing them; otherwise the roots lose their quality. Like comfrey, horseradish grows from the tiniest piece of root left in the soil; if you are trying to eliminate it from a certain place in your garden, be thorough.

Many of the ‘wise men and women’ around here recommended horseradish as a reliable remedy for sinus infections. Start with 1/4 teaspoon of the freshly grated root and hold it in your mouth until all the taste is gone. It will immediately start cutting the mucus loose from the sinuses to drain down the throat. This will relieve the pressure in your sinuses. I can attest to the truth of this one.

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