How to Prepare Horseradish

People either love horseradish or they hate it. One bite of pungent prepared horseradish is enough to clear out anyone’s sinuses. Hotter than the popular Japanese version of wasabi, horseradish is easy to grow and easy to prepare. If you don’t have access to a garden plant, you can often find the roots at markets such as Whole Foods. Homemade prepared horseradish is about twice as strong as store-bought versions, and lasts about 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

How to Prepare Horseradish

Ingredients

  • 8-10-inch long piece of horseradish root
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • Pinch salt

Method

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1 If you have access to a garden horseradish plant, use a sturdy shovel to dig up an 8-10-inch long tuber of horseradish. (You can't pull it up.) The plant itself, once established, propagates with tubers, and is very hardy. (See Wikipedia on horseradish). Remove the leaves from the root and rinse the dirt off of the root.

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2 Use a vegetable peeler to peel the surface skin off of the tuber. Chop into pieces.

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3 Put into a food processor. Add a couple tablespoons of water. Process until well ground. At this point be careful. A ground up fresh horseradish is many times as potent as freshly chopped onions and can really hurt your eyes if you get too close. Keep at arms length away, and work in a well ventilated room. Strain out some of the water if the mixture is too liquidy. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and a pinch of salt to the mixture. Pulse to combine.

Note that the vinegar will stabilize the level of hotness of the ground horseradish, so do not wait too long to add it to the mixture.

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4 Using a rubber spatula, carefully transfer the grated horseradish to a jar. It will keep for 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Links:
Horseradish Information Council
Hung like horseradish from the Happyhoarfrost
Fresh Wasabi (not the same as horseradish)

40 Comments

  1. kurt lubbock

    First time visitor, I am looking to find out how to make horseradish. I’ve never done it before. Is there any way to make this and can it so that it will last for mor than 3 to 4 weeks?
    I would like to make some of this sauce and keep it all winter and spring at least.

    Note from Elise: Given that you are working with a root, and roots do quite well in the ground, the thing to do is to just pull up only as much as you need for a small batch, a batch that you would go through in a few weeks. The chemicals that give horseradish its pungency are volatile, they just don’t hold up over time, which is why commercial horseradish isn’t nearly as strong as freshly made.

  2. Blake Whiteway

    My father made it for years and we used small bottles like baby food jars and froze them. then we would take one out when we needed one.

  3. Charles

    The acidity of the vinegar should keep the color white for the month or so it’s good.

    Note that lemon or lime juice will also help keep the color (and I believe, though I don’t know, should preserve the hotness level.)

    Freezing should work well–leave room for a bit of expansion (~10%) of the ice.

    Note that processing horseradish is closely related to chemical warfare work–best to do it outside in a “well-ventilated” OUTSIDE (WINDY is good!) area.

    One of the largest grower processors is located about 25 minutes from here–they use gas masks while processing.

    This processing problem is, in and of itself a good reason to make a larger batch and freeze it is small doses.

    The ‘bite’ of any particular brand of horseradish will very some with shelf-time, but the main reason that they tend to ‘bite’ less than fresh is that the market mostly prefers that strength. There are brands with more ‘bite.’

    Note also that you do NOT want to plant horseradish anywhere except it’s permanent multi-year location. It is very difficult to eliminate once established as every tiny bit of tuber must be removed or you will have new plants.

    If you learn to recognize the plant (and it’s pretty easily identified,) or ask gardeners around town, someone will happily give you a tuber for your own plants–or just to grind.

    Nobody ever has a shortage of the stuff once established.

  4. Bryn

    Hi,

    you wanted a recipe that’ll keep for a long time. Just make sure your vinegar is a sound pickling strength (6-8%) and follow the recipe without using water. The strength will diminish over time, but not the flavor. Seal tight in many small jars (acid proof) and keep all in the fridge.

    Tip:- Exposure to air activates the enzymes that produce the heat, the longer the exposure the hotter the sauce. I peel and chop them under water, then process them without adding the liquid/vinegar until various times have elapsed (0-10 mins).

    I haven’t tried this, but apparently ice-cream with horseradish sauce (zero heat, lemon juice not vinegar) is served in some top-end restaurants!

    Also, try Horseradish.org (there’s someone for every kind of obsession…).

    Great tips, thanks Bryn! ~Elise

  5. Barb Butler

    Can Horseradish be canned ? I would like to give it away as Christmas gifts.

    I do believe so, though it loses its potency pretty quickly, which it is why it is best to eat freshly made. ~Elise

  6. keith

    I have been making horseradish for about 15 years. Never used water or salt. Just used white vinager but I strain every batch and squeeze out some of the juice enough to keep a nice texure and use for mixing. I will add small amounts of vinger when needed. It seems to work great because my longest horseradish in the fridge was over 3 years old with no color change, personally I think it got stronger. I have canned horseradish and for a good trick is to tell the person if they want the full effect they should smell it when they open it.

  7. Kane

    If not opened once jarred how long does horseradish last? If you don’t mix it with ingredients does it last longer?

  8. rottler

    I always had trouble keeping my horseradish white, untill a friend of mine who makes it also told me to wrap the jar in a BROWN BAG, keep in Ice box. No trouble since.

  9. yumyum

    I tried using a blender once, but the texture wasn’t as nice as hand grating with a rasp or small grater. A restaurant in Carmel, CA serves their prime rib with horseradish julienned, so experimenting with different textures, not only enhances the falvor, but experience as well. Thanks for keeping it simple!

  10. mike

    The root is best dug in the early spring before the tops come up. Or late fall after everything has went back to root. I just got done making 5 pints.

  11. Sandra Smith

    Thanks for all the information; I just bought a horseradish root today-my brother is here visiting from FLA & insists that commercial horseradish sauce isn’t as strong or good as freshly grated. So I began searching for information and advice & I like the comments added here.

  12. Kathy Vogt

    I am looking for the recipe on how to (can) pressure cook home grown horseradish. Does anyone have directions? Thanks very much.

  13. frederick lamica

    The best time to dig up horseradish is in the spring time, late spring; if you wait to long it does get tough and is not very good.

  14. Dixie Smith

    Does prepared(store bought) Horseradish need to be thrown out when the expiration date is up?

    Probably a good idea, don’t you think? ~Elise

  15. Peter Hayes

    After peeling and then cutting up the root into pieces would that not be a good time to freeze it in small bags and then just remove it from the freezer when you want to make some sauce?

    You could try it that way. Let us know in the comments how it turns out for you if you do. ~Elise

  16. Chuck

    All I have read about harvest times relates to northern climates. I am 50 miles south of Tampa and planted tubors in September. They are flourishing so when should I harvest?

  17. alex wisniewski

    I grind up horseradish in the spring for my family and friends. Some years its hotter than other years. Am I adding the Vinegar too soon the years it’s not hot or is it the root’s age or something else? I hope to make make my recipe so it’s very hot every year.

    Hi Alex, great question. I don’t know the answer. It could be due to just that year’s particular weather conditions. I don’t think you can add the vinegar too soon. The sooner the better if you want the horseradish to be hot. Though keep in mind that homemade horseradish will lose heat as the days go by. ~Elise

  18. Walt

    Greetings,
    I grind up the roots in a food processor and wear a gas mask. I do not use any salt, just the ground root and vinegar. Reason for the gas mask is many painful hours using a hand grater, outside on the back porch, to process the roots when I was a kid…it was always my job to do the horseradish.

  19. Frank Snyder

    I buy several roots at a time especially when it is on sale. I wash the roots and then wrap them in freezer paper. When I want to make fresh horseradish, I take out a root, cut it into small pieces for processing, The frozen root seems to give me a better and finer grind, I wait the ten minutes before adding the vinegar and I only use the least amount of water when it is grinding. All of the people I give this to say that this is the way horseradish should be. Fresh and hot and yes I tell them to sniff when the jar is open.

  20. john sells

    Is there any advantage in returning some of the water from grinding horse radish back into the mix? Is there a suggested proportion of water and white vinegar?

    No idea. ~Elise

  21. David Niskala

    I have been growing Horseradish for years. I have three nice plants in my yard. Any time I want some I just dig up a part of the root. “If you cut off the top of the root with the green part you can replant it in the same spot you pulled it from this will start a new plant” I peel off all the outer layer cube and put into a food processer I have found that if add a little water and about a 2 oz “Vodka” with just a splash of lemon juice it will stay longer in the refrigerator and a lot longer in the freezer. and retains the flavor and heat for months. I have heard people put it in bottles but I find a high quality freezer bag works better.

  22. Tom

    I just got done digging up my horseradish for the first time, and was looking how to prepare it.

    Thanks, it is such a simple process. I love prepared horseradish on ham & roast beef.

  23. carl busnick

    I have been making my own horseradish for the past five years and I have read two different ideas when it come to adding vinegar. One was that by adding vinegar it stops the radish from getting hotter but one of the above posts says that by adding vinegar it makes the radish hotter. WHICH is correct?
    Also, should you grind up the radish and freeze it or should you freeze the whole root?
    Thanks for your comments!

    From what I understand the vinegar keeps the horseradish from losing too much heat. It will mellow out over a few days anyway, but would lose its punch faster without the vinegar. As for freezing, I would freeze the whole root, then defrost before processing. But don’t hold me to that, as I haven’t actually tried freezing either the root or the ground root. I do know that the roots don’t suffer when they are in the ground over winter, so freezing them should be fine. ~Elise

  24. Dave

    I dug up my horseradish and haven’t had the time to grind it down, it now seems to be dried out is there any way to reconstitute it? I cut off a small chip by the crown and it smells great. I’ve done the horseradish for years but never got delayed in grinding it down. I have fall cut plants and spring cut plants and I can’t tell the difference they all seem to have the same “sinus clearing factor”. Kosher Salt added seems to take away from the sting but preserves the taste and longevity. So, are my dried horseradish ok to grind up? add water? Soak them?

    Great question, no idea on the answer. ~Elise

  25. Jack

    Most of the horseradish I have found at the chain grocery stores has a dried out factor. So, I have learned that if you soak a dried root for about 24 hours, it gets hydrated to seem fresh. It may not be quite as good as just dug up root, but it have the “sinus clearing factor” and can provide the bite you want. My mom’s (79 yo) tried and true preparation is grating the root, then a short bake in the oven, and finally adding vinegar, salt, sour cream and a little sugar for a great creamy horseradish sauce. The longer you bake it, the milder it will be. However, the kitchen can be eye watering and sinus clearing.

  26. joey

    hello home made horse radish lovers who cant wait till spring, so here is how its go.april 1 dig the root up. but first step by step,have a friend give you some top,s of root more the better.first time tell him or her to cut the root 1/2 inch down from top of root. plant top,s 1 foot apart.IN SPRING YOU WILL SEE WHAT THE TOPS LOOK LIKE. keep grass away from tops all soil around tops. when if you need mark down when plants went in april 1. most in portment let grow for >2 years or more if like bigger longer horse radish a friend she 84 only dig when there a r in the mouth in it. april 1 plant and dig.. rest as they say…

  27. paul thorpe

    hi
    i live in new zealand central north island
    where its very frosty in winter when is best to
    plant and harvest also will it grow in a pot
    many thanks
    paul

    No idea, you may want to consult a gardening site for that information. ~Elise

  28. Barbara

    Thank you for this site. I found it most helpful. I love the taste of horseradish and its medicinal values. I have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease and cannot find a gluten free horseradish product in the local stores. With the wonderful information provided here (and a gas mask) I can now make my own. Thank you again.

  29. Dave

    I have several times put refrigerated (not frozen)cubed horseradish roots through a propeller type food proccesser reducing the cubes to chunks smaller than lentils and then spoon mixed this horseradish with a couple ounces of white vinagar. Although the fumes from these simple preparations caused intense irritation to my nose and eyes that assured me of the potency of my horseradish, and although the mixtur were promptly refrigerated in sealed jars and consumed with fish a half hour later, the horseradish was in both cases tasteless and dull.I have no idea what I must do differently to preserve some horseradish heat and taste for even a matter of less than an hour.

  30. Evelyn

    Can you use prepared horseradish instead of freshly grated interchangeably in a recipe? Do you have to use more or less or the same amount if using the prepared horseradish? Thank you.

    Freshly grated and prepared horseradish is very strong, much stronger than prepared horseradish you buy in the store or homemade that has been sitting around for a few days. I would just use a little less. ~Elise

  31. Marina

    I have quite a few horseradish plants growing and spreading, and want to make Horseradish Honey to soothe sore throats and coughs, has anyone tried this? I tried it recently and felt the horseradish wasn’t quite as hot as I would like; wonder if it needs a bit of acid (rice vinegar maybe) added to the honey to bring out the heat and alkaloids?

  32. Peter

    I used to work at a restaurant (long out of business now) that would serve fresh horseradish with prime rib. It was coarsely grated, almost julienned, and it was served in a small mound, about 1/8 cup, with each order. It was quite mild, and delicious. Alas, I worked on the waitstaff and never paid much attention to how the kitchen staff actually created the food I served. Now, I’d like to serve it with this year’s Christmas dinner, but can’t find anything that looks like it. It really wasn’t a sauce; it was just shredded.
    Do you have any ideas?

  33. Rick

    Peter – I worked in a restaurant (about 25 years ago) that did exactly that. To get the coarse grate with the long shreds, we would use the shredding plate on a commercial Hobart mixer. I don’t remember the proportions, but the two ingredient differences that I can remember are (1) we used cider vinegar instead and (2) we also added some sugar. I also remember the restaurant preparation having more moisture than this one.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.