Where does horseradish come from? What does the plant itself look like? Is it actually a vegetable? Let’s find out together!
The Short Answer:
Yes, horseradish is a root vegetable.
The Long Answer:
Nothing clears out the sinuses quite like some strong horseradish. But where does it come from? And is it a vegetable? It’s not made from horses, right?
Don’t worry, horseradish is a vegetable and contains 0% horse.
In fact, horseradish is considered a root vegetable, meaning that the edible part of the plant is its root, much like carrots, onions, and garlic.
Horseradish has a long and storied history, likely dating back to ancient Eastern Europe. It is mentioned in Greek mythology, where the Delphic Oracle told the god Apollo that horseradish was worth its weight in gold. If that’s true I need to start planting some in my backyard!
While it may not be worth its weight in gold, horseradish is an interesting plant. It’s not only edible, but the roots and leaves of the horseradish plant were also used for medicinal purposes back in the Middle Ages. Its use as a condiment can be traced back to Britain, Germany, and Scandinavia.
Horseradish came over to the United States along with European colonizers. In fact, it is mentioned in the garden accounts of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
This vegetable gets its distinct taste from a compound called allyl isothiocyanate. The flesh of the horseradish root is crushed to create this compound, which acts as a natural defense mechanism against herbivores. Allyl isothiocyanate is actually harmful to the horseradish plant, so it is stored within the root as separate enzymes. When an animal chews into the plant this compound is released and repels the invasive creature.
Horseradish is typically used for a number of culinary products. The most common is horseradish sauce, which is made from grated horseradish root and vinegar. Horseradish sauce in the U.S. is typically creamy and mixed with mayonnaise or salad dressing.
In many Central and Eastern European countries, horseradish is used as a vegetable alongside meat or in a salad. It’s usually finely grated and mixed in with other food.
So, there you have it, horseradish is 100% a vegetable, and no horses were harmed in the making of this root.
Do you love horseradish? Do you hate it? What is your favorite food to mix it in with? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!