Horseradish nutrition facts
Horseradish is a long, tapering root used as a condiment in the kitchens. The root has strong, hot, and sharp flavor, which can be only be described after experiencing its unique taste!
Botanically, the spicy, pungent root belongs to the genus Armoracia, of brassicaceae (mustards) family, sharing with members like mustard, kale, radish, cabbage etc.
Scientific name: Armoracia rusticana.
Horseradish is native to Eastern and Mediterranean regions of Europe from where it spread to Americas during colonial times. The plant is a small perennial herb but can be grown as annual field crop for its thick, rough, fleshy roots in many parts of Europe, America, and Asia including Germany, USA, England, Hungary, Japan, and China.
The plant features broad, crinkled leaves. It grows best in cool climates with good sun light conditions. In general, the rootlets (root sections) planted in the spring and harvested by autumn. The roots are usually about 6-12 inches long with few rounded knots at the root end.
Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) is a Japanese variant of horseradish but has stronger flavor and delicate apple green color flesh.
Health benefits of horseradish
Horseradish is low in calories and fat; but contains good amount of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. The active principles in the root found to have anti-inflammatory, diuretic (increase urine output), and nerve soothing effects.
The root contains many volatile phyto-chemical compounds, which give its much-famed pungent character. Some of the major constituents in the root are allyl isothiocyanate, 3-butenyl isothiocyanate, 2-propenylglucosinlate (sinigrin), 2-pentyl isothiocyanate, and phenylethyl isothiocyanate. It has been found that these compounds have anti-oxidant as well as de-toxification functions.
It is a potent gastric stimulant; increases appetite, and aids in digestion. The volatile phyto-chemical compounds in the root stimulate salivary, gastric, and intestinal glands to secrete digestive enzymes, thereby facilitate digestion.
Horseradish has good amounts of vitamin-C which is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. 100 g fresh root provides 29 mg or 41% of daily-recommended values. Vitamin C helps alleviate viral infections by boosting immunity. In addition, it helps remove harmful free radicals from the body and protects it from cancers, inflammation, infections etc.
The root spice has some of vital minerals in moderation like sodium, potassium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Iron is an important co-factor for cytochrome-oxidase enzymes during cellular metabolism. It is also required for red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Being an important component of cell and body fluids, potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
In addition, the root has small amounts of essential vitamins such as folate, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
|Principle||Nutrient value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.69 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||3.3 g||9%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.093 mg||2%|
|Vitamin A||2 IU||<1%|
|Vitamin C||24.9 mg||41%|
Selection and storage
Generally horseradish root is harvested in late fall when the leaves killed by frost. You may also choose to buy fresh roots from the markets during the season. Select fresh, stony hard root that is devoid of sprouts, mold, or soft spots. Avoid green-tinged roots, as they are very bitter. Also, avoid over mature, old, and large roots, as they are off-flavored and excessively fibrous.
Once at home store the root in loose paper pack and place it in the refrigerator where it will remain dormant for next 6-9 months. Commercially prepared horseradish products are readily available in the stores all around the year. To prepare, fresh grated horseradish root is mixed with white vinegar in a desired manner to control (stabilize) its hotness. The preparation, however, gradually loses its flavor with time and turns off-white to brown color even if you keep it in the cold storage.
Preparation and serving methods
Fresh root has beige outer color. Clean it using moist cloth to remove surface dirt as you do it for ginger. Wash gently in cold water and mop it dry. Cut the root from the tip end as much part as you may require for your family that should last for 2-3 days. Keep the unused root in a loosely wrapped plastic bag inside the refrigerator to prevent it from drying out.
The pungency and hotness of horseradish are not appreciable in the intact root. As in onion and radish, crushing or grating the root releases volatile allyl-isothiocyanate compound that can cause irritation to eyes, skin, mucus membranes of nose and throat. Vinegar or citric acid neutralizes pungency and stabilizes its flavor. Generally, 2 to 3 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of table salt added to one cup of grated horseradish. Add vinegar 1-2 minutes later to get milder preparation.
Like in many other spices, horseradish too loses its flavor instantly. In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, it is generally grated just before preparing dishes and added to the cooking recipes at the final stages.
Here are some serving methods:
Horseradish is one of the traditional spices that are relished even today in the countryside. Fresh root grated directly on the recipes to add special jest.
The root is used in many preparations including dips, dressings, salads, and sauces as an accompaniment to meat, chicken, and seafood.
Horseradish sauce with cream is a perfect accompaniment to steak, venison, and fish like mackerel, tuna, and smoked trout.
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