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Prepared horseradish (Recipe: tart zucchini relish) {vegan, gluten-free}


As the crow flies, it is 990 miles from my house to the Horseradish Capital of the World.

Collinsville, Illinois, struts its stuff every July at the International Horseradish Festival, when more than 15,000 devotees come out to celebrate a root that's also known as stingnose.

A root that makes your eyes water, your nose twitch, your tongue numb, your fingers wrinkle, and your ears burn.

A root used to treat headaches, respiratory distress and rheumatism.

A root that was a favorite of both the Oracle at Delphi and Dagwood Bumstead.

More than 80 percent of the world's supply of horseradish grows in southern Illinois, and of that, the majority comes from Collinsville.

The horseradish root, a member of the mustard family, looks like a parsnip on steroids, and it's just as mild as a parsnip until you grate it. Then the isothiocyanates, volatile oils that contain the stinging hot flavor, are released, and the reaction gets stronger and stronger until vinegar is added to stop the action and stabilize the bite. The amount of time between grating/grinding the root and the addition of vinegar determines the heat level of prepared horseradish.

While horseradish is cultivated primarily for its root, the rest of the plant is also edible. But it's invasive, which is why, despite having a large herb garden, I like my horseradish from a jar, the way people have been buying it since 1860.

So get yourself to Collinsville in July, for the Horseradish Derby, horseradish toss (The record? 80.5 feet!), horseradish golf, the crowning of Little Miss Horseradish, and, best of all, the Bloody Mary contest.

And, if you're very lucky, you might find some horseradish meatloaf, cole slaw, smashed potatoes, short ribssoup, hummus, aioli, and horseradish mayo that's great on crab cakes and roast beef sandwiches.

Now that sounds like a party.

Tart zucchini relish

Adapted from Fondue, by Marlisa Szwillus, this tart relish makes a nice counterpoint to something rich and creamy, like fondue, or mac-and-cheese. Marinates overnight, so leave extra time for this recipe. Serves 4-6.


18 oz zucchini
5 shallots
1 tart apple
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 bay leaf
1 tsp peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup herb or white wine vinegar
2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley


The night before serving, trim and wash the zucchini. Peel the shallots. Finely dice zucchini and shallots. Peel and core the apple, and dice. In a bowl mix the zucchini, shallots and apple with the sugar, salt and sherry. Cover and marinate overnight.

The next day, pour the mixture into a colander, collecting the liquid in a wide saucepan. Add the bay leaf and slightly crushed peppercorns. Peel and mince the garlic, and add it to the pan. Boil the mixture uncovered over high heat until it is reduced by half. Add the vinegar and fruit and vegetable pieces to the pan. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the horseradish and let the mixture cool. Just before serving, stir in the oil and parsley.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Horseradish dip
Ginger salad dressing

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'm not a fan of the mustard family - horseradish and "relatives'....I can't seem to hold it!

i havent tried horseradish before...but surely i'd love anything with some heat ^_^

This coming Saturday night horseradish will be on the Seder table. Along with saltwater symbolizing tears, egg and greens for the gladness of spring, a fruit paste(charoset) symbolizing the mortar of the pyramids, and a lamb bone recalling the Pascal Lamb, horseradish symbolizes the bitterness of slavery.

Also, during one of the food traditions for the night (as opposed to pure ritual) it serves as the perfect relish for gefilte fish.

You gotta have horseradish and roast beef! I learned that from eating at Arby's! But I still like japanese horseradish - wasabi - the best.

That is a recipe I'd love to try, Lydia.

I love the stuff but don't use it nearly enough. The relish sounds like an interesting and tasty way to use it.

I've never use it, thanks for the recipe I may try ...

The Greek Oracle used horseradish? I will have to read up on that. This relish sounds delcious, it would probably be nice on burgers too:D

To Veron:
Wasabi and horseradish aren't identical. Real Japanese wasabi is a different rhizome, also with a powerful heat but different flavor. Here is the confusion: CHEAP wasabi (often what you get at US sushi bars) is inauthentically made from horseradish and other flavors.

See http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/realwasabi.htm
for a picture and lots of details about the distinction.

I love mustard, but I haven't tried this before. The recipe sounds delish! :) I really love your writing style :)

Horseradish is big here in the Midwest-people use it in/on all sorts of things: roast beef, ham, deviled eggs, potato salad, sandwiches, and just about anything else you can think of to spice up and make extra hot.

I think horseradish's uncanny popularity in the Midwest can (at least partially) be attributed to the fact that 2 Midwestern states produce horseradish: (Southwestern) Illinois (as you mentioned, Collinsville) and Wisconsin. While California also produces horseradish, I have often wondered just how popular horseradish is (or isn't) in other parts of the country, or if it tended to be of regional preference.

By the way, the zucchini relish recipe sounds delightful.

Shoot, I'm all grown up and now I want to be Little Miss Horseradish now that would be a claim to fame!

Thanks for all the great horseradish info! I had no idea that the horseradish capitol of the world is in Illinois! What I do know is that I love the stuff!!

I just LOVE horseradish! I could eat it until I die. I have to make that meatloaf!!!

Horseradish is a taste I only came to appreciate as an adult, and thanks to my husband. It is essential in shrimp dip!

I adore horseradish--when I'm not feeling well, I have one of my medicinal sandwiches loaded with the stuff...

Funny I should see this post now--yesterday I was reading an author's lamentations over the demise of homemade relish...


Tigerfish, I love horseradish, but in small doses!

Rita, some horseradish is so hot that you can use it to clear your sinuses when you're sick. Wonderful!

Mae, we always had a piece of horseradish root on our Seder plate when I was growing up. (And we always made my father go outside to eat his gefilte fish.) And thanks so much for the added information about wasabi -- you're right that it is from a different root plant.

Veron, horseradish and roast beef is THE best combination, isn't it?

Patricia, Mike, Babeth: This is a delicious relish -- save the recipe until zucchini season, when everyone has so much in the garden that they're giving it away.

Bellini Valli, yes indeed, the oracle declared horseradish to be worth its weight in gold. It's completely wonderful in a spicy mayonnaise for burgers.

Noobcook, thank you so much!

Sandie, I forgot about how good horseradish is in deviled eggs! I do think the popularity of horseradish (as with many things) is regional, but also cultural. It certainly was a fixture in our house (and our family of Polish descent) when I was growing up.

Callipygia, if you want to be Little Miss Horseradish, you go, girl!

Nicole, it's always fun for me to discover some unusual facts about the items in my pantry.

TW, I am soooooo willing to come and share that meatloaf with you.

Mimi, would you believe that I've never had horseradish in shrimp dip? Thanks for the wonderful idea.

Jasmine, whenever I'm sick, I gravitate towards things that are spicy. Perhaps I'm trying to chase the germs out of my system, but horseradish is one of the things that always works. And about the demise (?) of homemade relish....well, we bloggers know better!

I always wondered why some brands of horseradish were hotter than others, thanks for that. We make a sauce for gravlax that consists of horseradish, Dijon mustard, grated onion, a splash of vinegar and whipped cream for body, it's really nice.

I am absolutely loving the idea of this relish! I get so bored with them by the end of the season I'm going to keep this one on standby.

I absolutely love horseradish in any dish! My sister can't stand it, which totally baffles me. Your relish sounds delightful.

The relish sounds really yummy. Up until now I've only used horseradish to spice up mayonnaise for roast beef sandwiches and to make cocktail sauce. I also had no idea it got spicier as a result of grating it...very interesting.

Now that DOES sound like a party!! I loved every minute of this post. Not only do I love the fact that such a festival like this exists, but it was so informative--I never would have known that it becomes spicy upon grating. You know, I'll bet there are some good cakes or ice creams out there with horseradish...

My mom makes the best zucchini relish ever! It's the reason I eat hamburgers...

Neil, I love gravlax, and your sauce sounds dreamy and zesty!

Kalyn, I do love horseradish, too -- and writing this post reminds me that I should use it more often, as it's always in the pantry.

Katia, it's funny to think that the root is absolutely harmless until you grate or grind it, and then, whoa, it's hot!

Cakespy, if you find a recipe for horseradish ice cream.... well, I guess I don't want to know! But I'll bet there's a horseradish cupcake out there somewhere.

Brilynn, want to share her recipe?

wow, a festival for horseradish!

Lovely relish recipe too!


i never knew that that was how the heat of horseradish was regulated. i'll add it to the trivia bank!

horseradish is usually a bit much for me, but my husband would love this recipe.

Bea, I love any food that has its own festival. I saw a photo of a giant horseradish root shaped hot air balloon that looked wonderful!

Michelle, that's how they make prepared horseradish in different strengths. I prefer the mild versions, and that's odd, because I'm pretty much a spicy food fanatic. Anyway, try a few brands, and you might find a nice mild one that you'd like.

I love spicy horseradish- I add it to mayo, mac and cheese sauce, jam sauces... Thanks for the back story on it. And the links to some fab recipes!

Karina, I've never tried horseradish in mac and cheese, but now I'm curious and will have to try this!

I should try this horseradish. We use beet horseradish on our gefilte fish, but I don't actually like the beet part :)

Hillary, I'll trade you the beet part for the gefilte fish part -- I cannot stand the stuff!

I heard health wise that horse radish also helps burn calories? Is this nutritionally true.

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