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It’s easy to miss this knobby brown root when perusing the farmer’s market or walking the aisles of your grocery store, but trust us, one bite is all you need for a hit of flavor you won’t soon forget.
The sassy, spicy relative of Brussels sprouts and cabbage has a long history in traditional medicine as a fix-all for everything from pain and inflammation to relieving symptoms of the common cold, but these days cooks are chomping at the bit to get their hands on its fiery, pungent flavor for sauces and condiments. The root’s crunchy white flesh looks plain and unassuming, but packs an eye-watering spiciness that’s even more powerful than wasabi.
That’s not the only reason you should add horseradish to your culinary repertoire, though. Like most cruciferous veggies, horseradish contains plant compounds called glucosinolates, which may help stunt cancer growth and speed up your liver’s natural detoxifying process. Fun Fact: The prefix “horse” in horseradish is thought to refer to a root with a “hoarse,” or coarse, strong exterior.
Mountain radish, red cole, great raifort
Early spring through late fall
Select smaller, firm roots with no signs of blemishes and with no soft or green spots; also available dried or prepared in jars with vinegar to preserve flavor
Wrap in damp paper towels and store in a tightly sealed bag in your refrigerator crisper drawer for 1 to 2 weeks
Peel away skin, then grate carefully in a well-ventilated room with an open window; fresh horseradish has the same eye-stinging effect as onions
Enjoy raw in sauces mixed with cream or oil and an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice; never cook horseradish, as this causes it to release a pungent, unpleasant smell
Contains high concentration of glucosinolates, plant compounds that are broken down into chemical compounds called isothiocyanates, which help detoxify carcinogens in the liver; helps regulate digestion by stimulating release of bile from the gallbladder