Homemade prepared horseradish recipe

Horseradish is a worldwide popular condiment due to the sharp and pungent flavor of its root. It is usually served with roasted meat or combined with salads, sauces and sandwiches. The aroma of fresh, grated horseradish root is strong and irritates the eyes, nose and sinuses, but despite of this it is a popular condiment on all continents.  

Horseradish root is very easy to prepare at home. Its flavor is sharpest in freshly prepared root and it evaporates and degrades in time, so commercially prepared horseradish from the grocery store is usually milder than the freshly prepared one.

Horseradish flavor degrades when heated. Isothiocyanates, volatile compounds which are responsible for horseradish aroma, are unstable and degrade at 37oC (98oF). For this reason, horseradish root is usually served raw.


Homemade prepared horseradish


The basic seasonings for horseradish are vinegar, salt and sometimes sugar. To soothe its sharp taste, prepared horseradish can be mixed with grated beet, ketchup, mayonnaise or some other sauce or salad.

Sugar, salt white and vinegar     Prepared horseradish served with ketchup


How to make prepared horseradish

750g (1.65 lb) grated horseradish

Prepare the seasonings for horseradish: dissolve salt and sugar in water and then add the vinegar.

600ml (2.5 cups) water
250ml (1 cup) white vinegar
45g (3 tbsp) sugar - optional
15g (1 tbsp) table salt - optional

Or adjust vinegar, sugar and salt by your taste.


For preparation, choose a fresh, healthy horseradish root, 3-4cm (1.2-1.5 in) thick. Wash it thoroughly to remove all soil particles.

Horseradish harvested in early spring     Washing of horseradish root


Peel off the yellowish skin.

Peeling of horseradish root     Peeled horseradish roots


Grate the cleaned root. A grater works perfectly, but if you want to spare your eyes and nose, use a food processor. Combine grated horseradish with seasonings and pack it in jars.

Grating of horseradish root     Grated horseradish root mixed with seasonings


Freshly prepared homegrown horseradish has a taste and pungency incomparable to the store-bought one. Prepared horseradish can be kept for months in the refrigerator because vinegar acts as a natural preservative.  
The best roots for preparation are healthy, one-year old, 3-4cm (1.2-1.5 in) thick, straight, white roots. They are fleshy and with low content of hard, woody tissues. Aromatic compounds are contained in the whole horseradish root, but one-year-old roots at late autumn to early spring contain the highest level of them. Harvest horseradish from late autumn to early spring, when the plant is dormant, to obtain maximum of its aromas.

Although the pungent horseradish juice does not burn the skin on your hands while working with it, it is highly volatile and very irritant to the eyes and nose. Therefore, do not breathe its fumes and work with it at an arm’s length distance. Do not lean your head over the bowl with grated horseradish, and do not touch your eyes with your hands while there is horseradish juice on them!
The pungent constituent in horseradish is called allyl isothiocyanate. It is also found in radish, mustard and wasabi. This compound is not present in intact cells, but it is created when horseradish cells get crushed. This is the reason why there is no aroma in intact horseradish root. When the root is grounded or grated, enzymes are released from its cells, breaking down the compound sinigrin and producing highly volatile allyl isothiocyanate which gives horseradish its specific pungent flavor.
When grated and exposed to air, allyl isothiocyanate begins to evaporate and horseradish loses its sharpness in time. It irritates the nose and the eyes and causes tearing, so it is recommended to grate horseradish outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. If grated horseradish is too pungent for your taste, it is enough to leave it in an uncovered vessel for a few hours and it will lose much of its pungency.
When grated horseradish is exposed to air, it will darken in color, so it is important to mix it with vinegar solution as soon as possible. Vinegar will preserve its flavor and its natural beige color for several weeks when refrigerated in a tightly covered jar. With time, prepared horseradish will change its color from beige to yellowish, develop an off-taste and the sharp flavor will weaken.