Horseradish: The Hot Root

The horseradish gives dishes of all kinds a spicy touch. It goes very well with dips, dressings, spreads, soups, and roasts. In addition to horseradish recipes for eating, you will also find recipes for home remedies made from horseradish. Because the hot root can be used for colds, bronchitis, or bladder infections.

Horseradish: A fine herb

The horseradish – also known as horseradish or biting root – is an ambivalent creature. On the one hand, the spicy root stands for culinary delights because of its savory and spicy taste. On the other hand, it brings tears to our eyes when peeled, grated, and even when eaten. Exactly those ingredients are responsible for this side effect, which are also responsible for the health effects of horseradish.

The pungent-tasting and tear-inducing mustard oils only unfold when the horseradish is chopped up in some way. These substances are able to put pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi in their place. No wonder horseradish has been used in folk medicine for as long as anyone can remember for diseases such as respiratory and urinary tract infections.

Medicinal Plant of the Year 2021

Due to the anti-inflammatory properties, the considerable antiviral and strong antibacterial effects, the association for the promotion of the natural healing method according to Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheimden has chosen horseradish as the medicinal plant 2021.

The origin

Where horseradish originally came from will probably remain his secret. It is rumored that he was born in Moldova. From there, the large radish is said to have been brought to Central Europe by Slavic peoples, where it still occurs wild today. Its wild form can be found in both eastern Russia and Ukraine. The plant was cultivated thousands of years ago, for example in ancient China and Egypt.

Horseradish is a cruciferous vegetable

From a botanical point of view, horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) belongs to the cruciferous family (Brassicaceae) and is therefore z. B. related to broccoli, red cabbage, cress, and mustard. As different as all these plants may look, they have one crucial thing in common: They contain the ingredients typical of cruciferous vegetables, the mustard oil glycosides, which are responsible for the pungent taste and the pungent smell.

The horseradish is hardy

The horseradish is a herbaceous, perennial, and hardy plant, which even temperatures of minus 50 °C cannot harm and which can reach an impressive height of up to 2 m. Most of us have probably never seen the horseradish plant because only underground, around 40 cm long taproot is used in the kitchen and medicine.

The root is multi-headed towards the stem, with many lateral roots at the end of the root. Only the main root is used, while the side roots (they are called foxes) are used to propagate the plant.

Horseradish as a medicinal plant

Horseradish only found its way into the kitchen at the end of the 16th century. Long before that, it was valued as a medicinal plant. Horseradish was used medicinally thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt. The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder recommended the root in his work Naturalis Historia for its healing properties.

Horseradish was even immortalized on a wall painting in a ruin in buried Pompeii. The Roman flower goddess Flora is depicted with a flowering horseradish plant. Horseradish was also mentioned in Greek mythology: the oracle of Delphi told Apollo, the god of healing, that horseradish was worth its weight in gold.

In the Middle Ages, horseradish was considered a respected medicinal product throughout Europe. The sharp root came i.a. against jaundice, respiratory diseases, and scurvy.

The horseradish and its many names

According to legend, horseradish got its name from the fact that the roots came to us from the sea. This is supported by the fact that the plant is often found in coastal areas. The Latin name “Raphanus major” means “large radish”.

In Bavaria, Austria, and South Tyrol the horseradish is called horseradish. This name comes from the Slavic language area. “Krenas” means nothing other than “to cry” in Old Slavic. Anyone who has grated horseradish knows how apt this name can be.

In southern Styria, horseradish is also known as Sarossa root. This designation is based on a legend from the 13th century. According to her, a farmer named Sarossa observed that the root greatly benefited his ailing horse. At a later point in time, he fell ill himself and tested the horseradish on himself. As a result, Sarossa recovered.

Another name for horseradish is horse root, in English-speaking countries, it is also referred to as horseradish. From an etymological point of view, “horse” did not mean “horse” in the past, but “strong, big”. Whatever you choose to call horseradish, one thing is certain: it is indeed a big root that can make us cry and heal at the same time.

The Calories

The calorie content of 100 g of fresh horseradish is relatively low at 64 kcal. It is true that it is lower for other roots – e.g. For example, 100g of carrots contain 26kcal and the same amount of celeriac contains 19kcal – but horseradish consumes much smaller amounts, so counting calories makes no sense.

The situation is different with some industrially produced horseradish in a jar. If sugar or cream is added, the calorie value can quickly increase to 150 kcal. Fresh horseradish is also preferable because it is free of acidifiers, flavor enhancers, and preservatives. Last but not least, the natural version is richer in nutrients if it is eaten immediately after preparation.

The vitamins

In terms of vitamins, the high content of vitamin C and vitamin K in horseradish is particularly noteworthy.

Horseradish is rich in vitamin C

In southern Germany, horseradish is not called “Bavarian lemon” for nothing. Because there is more than twice as much vitamin C in the hot root than in the citrus fruit. A tablespoon of horseradish is roughly equivalent to a small lemon.

This positive effect of horseradish has long been known in shipping. Due to their long shelf life, the roots could be carried along on longer sea voyages to prevent the vitamin C deficiency disease scurvy.

The broad-spectrum antibiotic called horseradish

Horseradish contains various mustard oils with different spectrums of activity. While allyl mustard oil has a clear bactericidal effect mainly in the gram-negative spectrum, gluconasturtiin shows a strong bactericidal effect in the gram-positive range.

Gram-positive bacteria such as streptococci, enterococci, and staphylococci and gram-negative bacteria such as salmonella, legionella, E. coli, and Klebsiella can often only be combated with different antibiotics. However, horseradish has an effect on both groups of bacteria and is therefore referred to as a natural broad-spectrum antibiotic.

With horseradish against antibiotic resistance

Conventional medicine is increasingly reaching its limits when it comes to bacteria. Many antibiotics such as B. Penicillin not in the first place because they have an outer membrane that protects them from it. If this membrane is destroyed, toxic substances (endotoxins) leak out, which contribute to the severity of the infection. This is referred to as primary antibiotic resistance.

Much more dangerous are secondary, i.e. acquired, antibiotic resistances that are based on mutations in the genome of the bacteria. The causes include improper use, unnecessary prescriptions, and use in factory farming. Gram-positive bacteria have been becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics for quite some time, but gram-negative bacteria are also on the rise. In intensive care patients, the majority of infections are already caused by multidrug-resistant gram-negative pathogens. In Germany alone, multi-resistant germs cause up to 600,000 infections and 20,000 deaths every year.

Now at the latest, it is becoming clear how important it is to only take antibiotics when there is no other option, for example in the case of pneumonia or blood poisoning. In the case of non-life-threatening ailments, therapies with antibacterial and antiviral medicinal plants such as horseradish are often much more sensible. These are also hardly associated with side effects, as is the case with antibiotics, which we have already reported to you. In addition, horseradish does not contribute to the development of resistance and is sometimes even effective against multi-resistant germs.

Horseradish and nasturtium: better than antibiotics

A study lasting more than a year involved 25 medical practices (general practitioners, internists, and urologists) and a total of 1,649 patients with acute sinusitis, bronchitis, or urinary tract inflammation who were older than 4 years. They were given either a herbal remedy with nasturtium and horseradish root (Angocin Anti-Infekt N) or a standard antibiotic. The researchers found that herbal therapy was by no means inferior to antibiotic treatment, with a significantly lower rate of side effects.

A large German cohort study involved 858 children over the age of 4 and adolescents with acute sinusitis, bronchitis, or urinary tract infections. The researchers concluded that treatment with horseradish and nasturtium was as effective as treatment with antibiotics. In addition, the herbal preparation (Angocin Anti-Infekt N) was significantly better tolerated.

In 2007, a randomized double-blind study with 219 patients between the ages of 18 and 75 examined whether the combination of horseradish and nasturtium can prevent chronically recurring urinary tract infections. One group received the herbal preparation (Angocin Anti-Infekt N), the other a placebo, each twice a day for 90 days. In the medicinal plant group, the relapse rate was almost 50 percent lower.

External use: the horseradish pad

Externally, horseradish is used as a counter stimulus for ailments such as muscle pain, sore muscles, rheumatism, gout, and sciatica, for example in the form of compresses and pads. The applications lead to increased blood circulation in the skin and alleviation of inflammation and pain.

For a horseradish topping, proceed as follows:

  • Peel and finely grate the fresh horseradish.
  • Apply a thin layer of horseradish to the affected areas and cover with a linen or cotton cloth.
  • If you have sensitive skin, it is advisable to wrap the horseradish in a thin cloth or put it between two towels.
  • The application only takes a few minutes, you can repeat it several times a day if necessary.

Applied externally, horseradish acts quickly and intensively. The mustard oil content must not exceed 2 percent, otherwise, severe skin irritation can occur. Since this value cannot be taken from the fresh root, it is advisable to start with a short period of use. If the product is well tolerated, the exposure time can be gradually increased.

The dosage of horseradish at a glance

The root of the horseradish (Armoraciae radix) is considered a medicinal drug. This is freshly grated, dried (e.g. in powder form), or used as fresh plant juice.

The recommended mean daily dose is:

  • 20 g of the fresh root
  • 1 g horseradish powder
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh plant juice twice a day

Fresh horseradish is best

It is not advisable to prepare horseradish tea, as the effect of heat destroys the enzyme myrosinase. The formation of the active ingredients (mustard oils) would be severely restricted. The effectiveness of dried horseradish is also severely limited as the essential oils evaporate during drying. According to analyses, fresh horseradish root has the strongest effects and can even outperform extracts.

It is important that you grate the horseradish just before taking it. After just 6 hours, the valuable mustard oil glycosides in the grated horseradish have evaporated by up to 75 percent.

Prepared preparations with horseradish

Apart from the fresh, dried or powdered horseradish root, various preparations are also used in medicine, which can be bought in pharmacies, drugstores, organic shops, and corresponding online shops. These include:

  • Tablets with powdered horseradish root
  • fresh plant juice
  • extracts
  • tinctures
  • Homeopathic mother tinctures
  • Ointments and gels (with a maximum of 2 percent mustard oils, otherwise there is a risk of skin irritation)

With regard to the dosage of finished preparations, you should pay attention to the information provided by the manufacturer.

In these cases better no horseradish

If horseradish is served with food, there are usually no side effects. However, if the hot root is used medicinally, i.e. daily for a certain period of time, it can lead to digestive problems and irritation of the mucous membranes. As a rule, a reduction in the dose is sufficient for these side effects to disappear.

The therapeutic use of horseradish is not recommended for gastric and intestinal ulcers and acute kidney diseases. The same applies to children under 4 years old.

Horseradish growing areas

Horseradish is definitely a niche product. In Europe, the perennial and hardy plant is only cultivated on a large scale in Germany, Austria, Poland, and Southeastern Europe (Hungary). Smaller growing areas can be found in Sweden, Denmark, and England.

In Germany, Central and Upper Franconia (Bavaria), Baden and Spreewald are among the most important growing areas. Most horseradish farmers are based in Hochstadt a der Aisch (near Nuremberg), where around 100 hectares are cultivated. There are also areas under cultivation in the Hanover, Erfurt, and Hamburg areas. Almost 100 percent of the Austrian horseradish comes from the federal state of Styria. Around 4 tons are harvested here every year. In Switzerland, on the other hand, there are only a few horseradish farmers, for example in Willisau in Lucerne.

In addition, horseradish is grown in China, South Africa, and southern Australia. The horseradish stronghold is clearly the USA. Collinsville in Illinois is considered the horseradish capital of the world: around 85 percent of horseradish is harvested here and in the surrounding area on the Mississippi. The area under cultivation is around 1,500 ha.

Pesticides in horseradish

In 2018, the chemical and veterinary investigation office in Stuttgart carried out analyzes with root vegetables (including 1 horseradish sample). In this sample, more residues of pesticides were found, but the permitted maximum limit was not exceeded. Horseradish is not one of those foods that are considered to be very contaminated. The substances found are often only in the trace range.

However, you are always on the safe side if you choose organic horseradish. But this is a real rarity. To generate z. In Austria, for example, there are 60 horseradish farmers, one of whom relies on organic farming. This is due to the fact that there is no demand and only half of the yield can be achieved in organic cultivation. Here you can see that the consumer can initiate a rethink. After all, demand ultimately determines supply.

When is horseradish in high season?

The horseradish is planted in March and the flowering period takes place between May and July. Part of the horseradish is harvested in November. The rest stays in the ground and is not harvested until March of the following year. Ripe horseradish can be recognized by the leaves of the plant. When these wither, the roots can be dug up.

The main season for horseradish is in the autumn and winter months, from November to February. However, since it can be stored well, it can be sold well into April.

The horseradish cultivation and the foxes

An old farmer’s saying goes: A field with horseradish wants to see its owner every day. In fact, horseradish is extremely labor intensive. Cultivation requires a lot of manual work from the farmers and requires six times more working hours than is the case with potatoes.

Horseradish thrives particularly well when there is a distance of 70 to 100 cm between the individual horseradish plants. Horseradish does not do well on loamy soil, which means that the roots tend to become woody. The small, white flowers are in a racemose inflorescence that can reach a width of 40 cm and exude an intense fragrance.

Horseradish is propagated without seeds. Instead, the horseradish farmers take the most beautiful side roots of the horseradish – the so-called fechsers – cut them to a length of 35 cm, and keep them.

The next time they are planted, the hedgehogs are planted and grow into new horseradish plants. The characteristics are passed on from generation to generation. For this reason, horseradish farmers are not dependent on hybrid seeds from international breeders. This fact represents a special feature in modern agriculture. There are farmers who have specialized in marketing the Fechser when it comes to horseradish cultivation.

These types of horseradish exist

Vegetables and fruit are usually characterized by a hodgepodge of varieties. In this regard, too, the horseradish plays the extra sausage. Because there are no varieties of horseradish in this sense. There are, however, differences in terms of quality, appearance, degree of spiciness, and taste, but these characteristics are linked to the origin. So tastes e.g. For example, horseradish from Bavaria differs from that from Poland or Styria.

Is wasabi green horseradish?

Wasabi (Eutrema japonicum) is also known as green or Japanese horseradish. But wasabi is by no means a horseradish variety. Both belong to the large cruciferous family and both are pungent-tasting roots. Ultimately, however, they are different plant species with corresponding differences.

For example, the flesh of the wasabi root is not white, but light green and the spiciness is not the same due to the different mustard oil composition. Wasabi plants also make very high demands on the climate, they need temperatures between 8 °C and 20 °C and do not tolerate direct sunlight.

Products that we offer under the name “green horseradish” usually have absolutely nothing to do with wasabi. Because it is horseradish powder or paste, sharpened with mustard and colored green with spirulina algae, chlorophyll, or dyes. The difference in price is immediately noticeable. Because while you have to put over 100 euros on the table for 30 g of real wasabi powder, you can get the imitation for just a few euros.

Is there pink horseradish?

Have you ever seen pink horseradish in a jar in a shop? However, this is by no means a special pink horseradish variety, but a cream or spread containing horseradish and beetroot or cranberries. Other horseradish specialties are horseradish mustard and horseradish.

What you should consider when buying

You can buy fresh horseradish roots in organic shops, at weekly markets, in greengrocers, and in well-stocked supermarkets. When choosing, make sure that the shell is intact and clean. The root may be a bit crooked, but should not fork out. It is best to always buy a whole root and not pieces of root. You can also freeze part of the root if needed, which we’ll talk about below.

The flesh of the horseradish should be white with no gray streaks. Horseradish roots with green spots are not immature. As with asparagus, the green color comes from when the root was not fully underground and exposed to sunlight. This does not negatively affect the taste.

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