She blinded me with horseradish

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Last spring, I threw four horseradish plants in next to the potato hills. They flourished, growing nearly three feet tall. “Dig in fall to prevent propagation,” the description said.

Well, things happen, the roots didn’t get dug up, and perhaps in a few months I’ll have a madhouse of wildly potent roots running rampant out there. I did dig them up this week – or at least, I tried to. The roots run deep. Seriously deep. Feet deep.

I did get a couple of pounds dug up, and I’m splitting it with two adventurous friends.

The new plant shoots were rather lovely:

These instructions are not for a horseradish sauce, really – it’s more just “ready to use,” much like a jar of minced garlic. Throw it into a sauce, into mashed potatoes, on a sandwich, on a steak, or into whatever else from which you might want a punch to the sinuses.

On NPR recently, I heard an interview with a guy who speculated on why we like to eat spicy foods. He said something like, “it might just be because it feels so good when it stops hurting.”

That may well be – I am bereft of clue on this one. If I had these same sensations from something that was actually doing damage, I would probably freak out. Knowing it’s harmless makes it ok, even enjoyable.

We are a damned peculiar species.

Today, I prepared my portion of the roots. The most time-consuming part of preparing horseradish? Preparing the roots to prepare them (yo, dawg: prepare.)

Rinse the roots really well.

One peels the roots, which may be rather tiny, with a vegetable peeler. The really small ones can be scrubbed with a dish pad. That part isn’t too tedious, but once we move up to the near-the-surface portion of the root, things get more convoluted, quite literally. There will be folds where pockets of dirt might live, and we don’t want gritty horseradish.

Once everything is trimmed, peeled or scrubbed, rinse it all again, along with the knife you’re using. Dirt grit is tenacious.

I cut the roots into small pieces and plopped them into my atrocious, godawful food processor, where I ground them into tiny bits.

A word of warning, for those of you who may wish to try this at home: I rate the pain and tears of opening the lid of the food processor somewhere way above Chopping Onions and slightly below Habanero Pepper Right in the Eye.

If eyes could shriek, mine would have. Maintain a healthy distance from the open food processor. As I stepped back, trying not to trip over two very curious dogs, I distinctly remember the thought, “I am going to eat this? On purpose?!” It will tone down, however, as time passes.

Toss in sufficient water to cover the blades of the processor, pulse and then quickly add two to three tablespoons of white or cider vinegar and blend well. You might need to scrape the sides with a spatula a couple of times – good luck “maintaining a healthy distance” for that bit, let me tell you.

The vinegar slows (or perhaps arrests completely) the enzymatic action that will degrade the hotness of the horseradish over time.

Toss in a couple of pinches of salt, blend one final time, and call it good.

In my first go, I think I added not enough water, and probably not enough vinegar. However, given the hotness of the root, this may be just fine with me for now.

Store in an airtight glass jar (I used a Mason jar) and put into the fridge, where it will reportedly keep for four to six months, longer if stored in the freezer.

Of course, now that I’ve typed that all up, I found an easier-sounding blender recipe. I’d say try that one first, mans.

Once the initial eye trauma of the preparation passes, I bet this will totally be worth a few tears.

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