Are you looking to make your horseradish last as long as possible, or saving it to use on a future occasion?
It’s possible to freeze horseradish, but this option comes with an impact on potency and texture.
What Is Horseradish?
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is a internationally-popular root vegetable that’s native to Europe and Asia. It comes from a plant in the Brassicaceae family, also know as the crucifer family. Hence, why it holds cruciferous vegetables like the mustard plant, broccoli, radish, cabbage, and wasabi.
It’s historically documented into antiquity and even appears in a mural in Pompeii. The plant’s root and leaves were used as medicine during the Middle Ages for its diuretic properties. The plant can help reduce blood pressure.
The root itself has also been long-used as a condiment in Europe. Horseradish sauce is likely where you’ve encountered the vegetable, but horseradish can also be used as a spice. Hungary is the largest producer of horseradish in the world, annually producing 12,000 metric tonnes, so it’s clearly very popular in Europe.
Horseradish roots can grow up to 5 feet tall. However, the root area is the best for food, so this is the section that’s sold in grocery stores. The vegetable resembles a white tube, though they usually have a brownish color from being stained underground.
The root of the horseradish has no pungency when attached to the whole vegetable, but when it’s grated or cut off, its enzymes produce mustard oil which causes the vegetable to become so pungent it could irritate the sinuses or eyes. Once exposed to air, the pungency lessens a bit.
Flavor of Horseradish
The pungent taste of mustard oil primarily defines the taste of horseradish. It’s a defense against herbivores during the plant’s growth season, but is widely loved among fans of horseradish’s culinary uses.
This is because the pungency is balanced out in sauces and other horseradish ingredients. A small amount can give a pleasing effect of clearing out sinuses, while too much can lead to tears and a lot of physical irritation.
The spiciness of horseradish is a flavor that tastes like it smells – a bit prickly and very spicy. It’s a particular kind of spice that really compresses in your eyes, throat, and sinus. Besides the spiciness, horseradish has a similar flavor to a regular radish. It has a very short-lived heat.
It’s a divisive flavor. Some people are absolute fanatics, while some don’t understand why anyone would consume something that accosts your senses as horseradish is known to do.
Culinary Uses of Horseradish
- Horseradish Sauce
The most popular use of horseradish is horseradish sauce. This is what may have popped into your mind when you thought of freezing horseradish. It’s made from grated horseradish root, which is then combined with vinegar. It’s especially popular in the UK.
Usually, a small amount of horseradish is used and combined with creamy ingredients like mayo and sour cream, along with the vinegar. One example ratio wuld be ½ sour cream to 2 tablespoons grated horseradish.
Horseradish sauce is popularly served with red meat in the UK, as its creamy, spicy flavor can nicely balance out the texture and gaminess of meat. Horseradish sauce is also a popular option for the Maror (bitter herb) component of the Jewish holiday Passover.
This sauce is very similar to horseradish sauce. The only difference is that it’s made with lemon juice or a different kind of citric acid instead of vinegar. It’s a German variation of horseradish sauce.
- Tewkesbury Mustard
This is a sauce that’s available in the UK. It combines horseradish with mustard and was actually mentioned by Shakespeare in Henry IV. There’s another version in Austria called Krensenf.
There are two varieties of chrain, which is a paste made of grated horseradish. One version is combined with beetroot, and takes on a reddish purple color. The other versio is regular chrain and is just the white color of regular horseradish.
- Wasabi Alternative
Because of its spicy, pungent flavor, horseradish is a great alternative to wasabi. Usually green dye is added to that it can appear similar to the spicy Japanese sushi condiment.
Can You Freeze Horseradish?
The short answer to this question is yes. However, there are certain impacts on the vegetable’s flavor, pungency, and texture that might not make it worth it.
Anything can go in the freezer. But should it really?
Freezing horseradish will definitely make it last longer. It lasts in the freezer for about 4-6 months, while it only lasts for 2 weeks at room temperature. It can also last in the fridge for 2 weeks. After that, it starts to lose flavor.
If you freeze and then thaw the horseradish root, it will be much less spicy and flavorful. It’ll likely have lost the entirety of its sinus-clearing effect. The texture will also be mushy, as opposed to crisp, which is how it is when fresh.
It’s also not recommended to try to refreeze horseradish after thawing it. The texture will grow even mushier until it hardly resembles the root it was before the freezing process.
How To Freeze Horseradish?
In order to freeze horseradish, you want to make sure you’re storing it in a completely clean container to prevent bacterial growth. Cut the root into small pieces so that you don’t have to refreeze and rethaw the root.
Grating the horseradish is another way to freeze it. This won’t change the texture as dramatically because it will already have a mushy consistency. If you’re freezing horseradish to use for sauce, make sure to add vinegar to it before freezing it.
Instead of using an airtight container to freeze your horseradish, consider wrapping it in aluminum foil. This will still keep the root fresh and sealed, and you can guarantee the sterility.
The foil method only works if you’re wrapping up the horseradish root. If you’re freezing grated horseradish, use an airtight container so it doesn’t spill all over your freezer. This will also make it easier to defrost.
Always remember to label the horseradish root when it goes in the freezer, or write it down somewhere so you don’t forget. If it passes the 6 month mark, you won’t want to eat it anymore because it will be rotten and unrecoverable. Make sure to eat it before this time passes.
After deciding the best method of freezing horseradish for you, simply stick it in your freezer and leave it for a few hours. By then, it should be completely frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze prepared horseradish in a jar?
You can freeze prepared horseradish, but it’s recommended to add the sauce to an airtight bag rather than a jar. Jars aren’t always airtight. If the jar is sealed, you can preserve the horseradish sauce by placing it in a dark cabinet.
How long can you keep horseradish in the freezer?
Horseradish stays edible for 4-6 months in the freezer.
How can you tell if horseradish is bad?
Rotten horseradish will usually be mushy, smell bad, or have mold. It’s generally obvious whether horseradish has gone rancid or not.
It’s totally possible to freeze horseradish, but it makes more sense to just eat it fresh rather than buying it in advance.