Horseradish root is the quintessential spring food. I always connect eating it with the Passover celebration dinner, in which horseradish was said to represent the bitter tears that accompanied the time of slavery for the Jews in Egypt during the time of Pharaoh. Growing up, that was the one and only time of the year that I had access to eating fresh horseradish root. We mixed it with parsley, apples and cinnamon and spread this mixture on the matzoh to make a “sandwich.” It was almost indescribably delicious, but, interestingly, when I tried this dish at other times of the year, it was nothing special. The taste must either have been enhanced by the celebration itself or was connected to the spring time of the year.
The folklore of horseradish was that the pungent sulfur element “cleansed” your liver. In modern-science terms, we would say that the sulforaphane chemicals in the horseradish root improve both phase 1 (bagging the garbage) and phase 2 (taking the garbage out to the curb) detoxification pathways in the liver. As we emerge from the slumber of winter, when we traditionally eat heavier, storable foods, we need a “spring cleaning” to jumpstart the new year. This is when the horseradish root, which easily survives even the coldest winters, is dug up, cleaned and either cut into strips or grated atop foods. This practice has been an integral part of the integration of the human being into the seasons.
Our Horseradish Powder, grown on one of the two organic horseradish farms in the U.S., is a descendant of an old European variety. Horseradish can be an invasive plant that most farms and gardens choose to avoid. Luckily for us, some farms choose to rely on it for their livelihoods.
We dry the horseradish roots and grind them into powder, allowing us to use horseradish in its potent state for much of the year. Horseradish Powder is an important spring-cleaning food, which goes great on meat or and adds a wonderful “bite” to soup or eggs. As always, please send us your favorite Horseradish Powder recipes and any unusual uses you find for this or any of our other powders
Tom Cowan, M.D.
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Happy New Year to everyone, with wishes that you are getting time to enjoy family, good food and outdoor winter activities.