Heinous Horseradish

Or The plant that knew no boundaries …

The unseasonal high temperatures – 12C with five days to go until Christmas – left me no excuse to delay the inevitable any further. Today I had to dig out the horseradish.

I only meant to grow the fiery roots once, back in 2014.  But despite thinking I’d dug them all out a year ago, they came back for a second season.  You’re meant to lift horseradish around October but I hoped that leaving it until now might somehow weaken it.

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Spent horseradish leaves on the right

Occupying half of one of the small raised beds, the leaves were certainly dead and starting to rot into the soil.

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Surprising second growth of the year

Clearing the leaves away I was stunned to see new growth.  The high temperatures seem to have fooled the plant into thinking it’s spring again and it’s started a new growth cycle.  When you’re trying to eradicate a very pervasive plant, that’s not exactly what you want to see.

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Digging away at the soil revealed the root structure.  I discarded lots of thin, spindly roots.  Any single one of those is enough for the horseradish to re-establish itself.  Underneath each of those new green shoots on the surface was a thick root and I cut those out as carefully as possible.

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Horseradish roots revealed

It was quickly clear that some roots had dug themselves into the clay base which this neighbourhood sits on and out beyond the footprint of the raised bed.  That’s quite problematic as they’ve gone under the lawn in one direction, the patio in another, and heading towards next door’s garden in another.  This is going to require another digging session.

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The crop

Meanwhile, there was a nice crop to bring in.  Washed up, the horseradish was healthy and clean.  I tasted a little and yes, it’s good and fiery.  It’s different from chillis, in that there’s no flavour behind the heat.  It’s just pure, eye-watering pungency.

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Back indoors.  The champagne vouchers were from a trip to Madrid last week.  Is there anything more tragic than a free champagne voucher that you forgot to use?

I learned last year that peeling and slicing them lets the heat quickly evaporate, so this time I bagged them up intact and put them straight into the freezer.

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Ready for the freezer

Despite the troublesome nature of the plant, I couldn’t help admiring the roots and resolved to make a traditional horseradish sauce to go with Christmas dinner a few days from now.  To be honest I don’t know what else to do with them.  The internet isn’t exactly overflowing with horseradish recipes.

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Igloo cauliflowers

One of the few remaining things still harvestable this month was a couple of mini Igloo cauliflowers.  People so often discard the leaves that grow around caulis, but they make a delicious green if you shred them and season them well.

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I boiled the curds, sautéed the leaves and mixed them into a white sauce with grated cheddar cheese.  A few minutes under the grill and out popped two mini cauliflower cheeses.  Great in the Le Creuset ramekins I got earlier in the year.

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There are also a good few pounds of Maris Piper potatoes left in store.  Despite being kept in the dark and cool of the garage, they’ve started to sprout (I wonder whether to try and keep some going till spring to plant as seed potatoes).  But the sprouts are easy to knock off and then they’re perfect for peeling and cooking.

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Last night they joined some freshly picked rosemary and sage and a couple of cloves of this summer’s garlic to accompany some lamb fillet.

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Lamb on brassica leaves, with roasted Maris Pipers

The starter beforehand was homemade Thai crab cakes, served on a lettuce and celery soup I made and froze months ago and topped with a Medina chilli.  That worked quite well.

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Thai crab cake on lettuce and celery soup

And there was an out-of-season lunch today.  Out of the freezer came a bag of the autumn-picked broad beans and some roasted tigerella tomatoes.

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Roasted tomatoes and broad beans on toast

With a bit of goats cheese and basil, piled onto toasted panini, it was just like late summer again. Which is a bit like the weather actually.  Salad and ice cream for Christmas dinner anyone?

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9 responses to “Heinous Horseradish

  1. One of the guys on our site rotavated his…He has a forest of new plants each spring. Luckily it grows wild near the Thames, so I can forage for a bit when I need it..

    • Blimey! How easy it is to make the problem worse. I get the feeling if I let mine carry on as it is, it’ll spread a couple of hundred miles and end up on the banks of the Thames too. Let me know if you spot it 🙂

  2. What a great post, thanks Bill. Your story about the Hardy Horseradish made me smile. And I didn’t know cauliflower leaves are so tasty – I’ll be giving those a try. Delicious recipes with your posts. Thank you for a year of interesting goings-on in your garden and kitchen. You’ve certainly unearthed my interest in growing and harvesting. Happy Christmas.

    • Thank you! Yes. I just think of mine as a member of the family now. It’s for the best 😉 And festive felicitations to you too!

  3. Very interesting post – didn’t realise the perils of horseradish!- and truly mouth watering recipe ideas. Nice to catch up again on what’s been going on down your way. 🙂

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