Originally, horseradish was used as a natural medicine, considered to be good for cleansing the blood. It is not widely sold in root form these days, which is a shame because there is nothing like the pungent hot flavour it delivers when freshly grated.
Since it grows anywhere with the tenacity of the worst kind of weed, you could grow it yourself to ensure a supply, though you will need a garden to do so, for it produces a long cylindrical root and is not, therefore, suitable for pot cultivation. When you do find some to buy, choose roots which are as straight as possible and which are woody and dry. These will keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for a month.
It is volatile in both the sense of inflammatory and inconstant; hot enough to take your breath away when just grated, yet rapidly losing its power when exposed to heat.
To make horseradish cream, peel as much of the end of a root as you want and grate about
Alternatively, use crème fraiche straight from the tub or thick Greek-style yoghurt. It should be served chilled, so refrigerate for 1–2 hours before using as a classic accompaniment for rare roast beef, though it is equally good with a steak or sausages and excellent with smoked salmon. Once made, it will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
For people addicted to horseradish, offer it freshly grated at the table. For a milder effect, serve it heated by adding it just before serving to a white sauce. A heaped tablespoon of horseradish to every
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.