One of our new experiments this year has been horseradish. I was keen to grow some, more for its health benefits than as a cooking ingredient, so Ade planted some back in the spring, and recently mentioned that it might be ready for harvesting.
A member of the cabbage family, horseradish has been grown since ancient times. The early Greeks used it as a rub for lower back pain, and it has been used as a medicine throughout the ages, supposedly curing everything from coughs and colds to rheumatism. It certainly sounds like a handy plant to have around!
Our horseradish was completely ravaged by caterpillars back in the summer, and I thought it was done for. There were hardly any leaves at one point, but horseradish is nothing if not hardy, and it very quickly recovered. In fact, it’s so robust, it can become quite invasive if you’re not careful, which is why we grew it in a pot.
But I should have double-checked when to harvest the horseradish before diving-in with wild enthusiasm. I was expecting something like a parsnip, but there was nothing of the sort! Only a handful of skinny, long roots.
I pulled up what I could, before discovering that it’s best to harvest the roots once the foliage has died back (our foliage it still looking pretty healthy), and like many autumn/winter veggies, the taste improves after the first frosts (of which we’ve had none yet).
Still, I had a little taste and it was perfectly horseradishy, and I think I managed to harvest enough for my needs; I’ve discovered an old folk remedy that I’m very eager to try out.
Watch this space!