7 Things You Need To Know About Horseradish
Dennis’ Horseradish was proudly founded in 1960, but horseradish history goes back much further. Check out this list of our top seven quirky, fun, must-know details about this small but mighty root vegetable.
1. Worth its weight in gold
Horseradish has been around for a long, long time, dating back to antiquity.
Fun fact: according to Greek mythology, the Oracle of Delphi, told Apollo that horseradish was worth its weight in gold. Now that’s how you get a good reputation. 🏆
2. Why do we call it ‘horseradish’?
Fortunately (or unfortunately?), it doesn’t have to do with horses.
The word horseradish in English was first recorded in the 1590s. It’s believed that the ‘horse’ was used figuratively to mean ‘strong’, along with the word ‘radish’, due to the root.
In other Europeans languages, it’s usually spelled like “khren” and you might also hear it called can de bretagne, cranson, great raifort, moutain radish, moutardelle, pepperrot, among many others.
3. The secret to the spice
If you love horseradish, you’ll probably also love the whoosh of heat that comes along with it.
That heat is actually due to a volatile compound called isothiocyanate. Interestingly, horseradish won’t be hot until it’s grated or ground – this is when the root cells are crushed and isothiocyanates are released.
What’s more, just chewing it makes it hot! It’s the mix of air and saliva that oxidizes the compound, creating that hot feeling that seems to really clear out your sinuses. 😅
4. Most common ways to enjoy horseradish
As a condiment enjoyed around the world, there are tons of ways people enjoy eating prepared horseradish.
In North America, we often eat it with roast beef, in Caesers (or Bloody Marys), in seafood sauce, with oysters and on burgers. Check out our recipes here for some of our favourites, including a supremely easy and underrated dip, perfect for veggies or chicken wings.
In the UK, it’s part of a traditional Sunday Roast, in France, it’s a staple of Alsatian cuisine and in Jewish culture, grated horseradish is often part of a traditional Seder plate during Passover.
In addition, it’s commonly used in salad dressings, potato salads and as a topping for any grilled or roasted fish, meats or veggies.
5. Is it like Wasabi?
Yes and no.
Horseradish and wasabi are totally different root vegetables, but they are from the same family and used in similar ways.
Both are root vegetables of the Brassicaceae family, also known as the mustard family. (Also known as cruciferous vegetables, other common veggies in this family are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and kale.)
“Real” wasabi comes from Wasabia japonica. However, due to the wasabi root being difficult to cultivate and prepare, horseradish often stands in for wasabi – mixed with food colouring, of course.
6. Health benefits you’ll love
Horseradish is filled with nutritional benefits, which arguably puts it in the superfoods group.
Rich in calcium, fibre, folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and many more important nutrients, this small but mighty root truly is worth its weight in gold.
Moreover, along with showing antioxidant properties, a 2016 medical journal reported evidence that a component of horseradish, sinigrin, showed promising results of health benefits, including:
- slowing the spread of cancer, especially in the liver
- lessening inflammation and improve chronic inflammatory disease
- acting as an anti-fungal agent and antibiotic agent, particularly against E. coli bacteria
Be sure to ask your doctor or health care professional if you’re interested in learning more about these findings. You can also check out our 9 favourite health benefits of horseradish here.
7. They love it Sweden?
We love this recent post out of Sweden, highlighting some awesome facts and uses for horseradish. As mentioned, we typically think of it as an accompaniment for red meat dishes in Canada. However, in Nordic countries, it’s usually served with fish.
The full experience
Now that you’ve heard learned a little about horseradish, it’s the perfect time to try it for yourself. Choose your favourite here, including our horseradish flights that feature a trio of our top-sellers and fan favourites.