Sunday, October 11, 2009
Hot Pink Horseradish
I found the perfect project for a cold Sunday afternoon. Today I made hot pink horseradish. This weekend it was time to put the garden to bed. I spent most of the afternoon dumping flower pots, chopping down sunflowers, rolling up chicken wire and filling the compost bin. The last task of the day was digging horseradish. I missed the opportunity last year and I was determined to put some horseradish away for the winter. My Dad used to make horseradish. I remember him grinding it on the back porch. "Mom, why is Daddy crying?" It didn't look like fun.
Our horseradish was here when I moved in. We have a well established patch at the north end of the garden. I waited too late last season and I couldn't dig through the hard, frozen ground. The soil in that area is hard and thick but this year I had a secret weapon- the tiller. I mowed the patch down and zipped through it with the tiller in just a few minutes. From there it was just a matter of picking up the pieces.
I brought half a bucket into the kitchen and washed of the black sticky mud. I let the chunks ofhorseradish roots soak in warm water for a couple of hours. It makes them easier to clean and peel. The pieces need to be peeled with all blemishes and brown spots removed. All the pieces were different and I remember thinking they weren't going to peel easily. I was right but after working on them for an hour it started getting a little easier. I also noticed my hands were getting warm. Like the time at Picuris when I helped Valerie and Simon's Grandma roast and peel two 50 lb sacks of Hatch green chile. We peeled and roasted green chiles until 4 am. My hands stayed warm for three days. They are still warm now, three hours later. Not painfully warm but noticeably warm.
After some online research i found out that you could grind horseradish in a blender. No more crying on the back porch. The Lawnmower Man recommended adding turnips to the horseradish to make it go further. I improvised and decided to add peeled Chinese beautiful heart radish. They are beautiful - green/white outside and purpl'pink on the inside. The result was hot pink horseradish. I've seen pink horseradish before. They add beets for color.
I used one cup of water to a half cup of horseradish and a half cup of beautiful heart radish chunks. I set the blender on "frappe" (whatever the hell that is..) and added chunks through the blender's blowhole until it got really thick. Then I added 1/4 cup of white vinegar and added more chunks. The result was a pasty blend that looked like a strawberry milkshake. (I would certainly hate mistaking one for the other.)
Now one caveat- If you decide to make this do not look down into the blender when the horseradish is blending. This may result in temporary blindness and loss of breath. At this point in processing it's potent stuff. This can also happen when you pack the horseradish in jars. After chopping/grinding/frappering/whatever I used a colander to drain the horseradish. I prefer thick horseradish and I've noticed the horseradish in stores often has excess water.
I put several pints and half pints away today and gave one pint to Lawnmower Man 2. I remember buying jars of horseradish at the IGA store when I was a kid. Back then I think we only had four condiments --ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise & horseradish. The clerk at the store would always say, "Horseradish. Keep it cold to keep it hot." I took that as her way of saying refrigerate after opening. Horseradish is the perfect condiment for Thanksgiving leftover turkey and ham. It also goes well with headcheese, but that's an adventure for another day.