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Horseradish grows in clusters forming a rosette pattern with leaves that sprout out of the plants base known as the taproot. The leaves are oblong in shape with saw toothed edges and can grow as long as two to three feet. Leaf texture can vary from smooth to crinkled and light to dark green in color depending on variety. Its flavor is sharp, bitter and peppery with a taste similar to that of kale and arugula. The younger more petite leaves are milder in flavor and have a delicate texture while the mature full sized leaves are coarse and piquant.
Horseradish leaves are available in the spring.
Horseradish is an herbaceous perennial and member of the Brassicaceae family along with mustard, rutabaga, kale and daikon. Horseradish is grown mainly for its root which is used to make the popular condiment but the leaves have also long been used for both their culinary and medicinal attributes. There are three main varieties of horseradish used in commercial production today; Common, Bohemian and Big Top Western.
Both the root and leaves of horseradish contain potassium, magnesium, vitamin c and calcium. Horseradish leaves were used by early physicians and healers to treat a variety of ailments such as asthma, toothaches, arthritis, colds and coughs.
Horseradish leaves can be used in both raw and cooked preparations. Young tender leaves can be added whole to salads or minced and incorporated into salad dressing. Young leaves can also be used to make lettuce wraps, dolmades or in lieu of seaweed in sushi rolls. Combine with basil when making pesto or other sauces to add a peppery kick. Leaves can be steamed, sautéed or stir-fried. Older horseradish leaves can be chopped and added to soups or cooked with other leafy greens such as kale and cabbage.
Since the middle ages bitter herbs such as horseradish leaves have been one of the five components of the traditional Passover Seder Plate. The bitter herbs are also known as Maror and symbolize the bitterness of the slavery the Jewish people had to endure in Egypt.
Horseradish is believed to have originated in southern parts of Russia. It was cultivated by the Greeks and Romans both as a food and for medicinal purposes during the middle ages. Its Latin name, Cochlearia armoracia was given by Linnaeus who thought the leaves resembled a type of long handled spoon known as a cochleare. Today horseradish grows in temperate climates throughout the world and can thrive in a variety of different conditions once well established.
Recipes that include Horseradish Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Jay Kordich||Jay’s Horseradish Tonic|
|Hunter Angler Gardener Cook||Wild Greens Colcannon|
|Get Rawcous||Creamy Kale Salad with Wild Horseradish Leaf|
|Eat Weeds||Horseradish Leaf Bubble and Squeak|