Harvesting Horseradish

Category Growing Food
Choosing the right time of year, when the soil is cool, and using the appropriate garden tools will give you your most flavorful harvest. This is a page about harvesting horseradish.


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May 12, 2011

If you like strong flavors, horseradish is one of the healthiest and most versatile perennial herbs to grow. The roots are easy to grow and prepare, and when harvested fresh from the garden, pack a much larger punch than the varieties found in grocery stores.

Tips for Growing

Horseradish is a perennial member of the mustard family, cultivated for its fleshy, pungent white roots. It prefers to grow in full sun to partial shade and will tolerate almost any soil. Seldom grown from seed, root cuttings are set in the ground in early spring (March or April) and ready for harvest by fall.

Tips for Harvesting



How to Prepare the Roots

Making prepared horseradish consists of 5 basic steps:
  1. Wash and peel the roots.

  2. Chop the roots into small pieces.

  3. Add the pieces to a blender, along with a few ice cubes and a small amount of cold water (just enough to cover the blades).

  4. Puree roots to desired consistency.

  5. When the roots reach the desired consistency, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of grated horseradish (see below for timing).

Adding Vinegar: Timing is Everything

Horseradish root does not give off a strong taste and aroma until it is grated or ground. Only after the tissues come into contact with oxygen are the volatile compounds, which develop the flavor, released.

Adding distilled vinegar to the freshly grated root stops the chemical process and allows you to control the "heat" of the final product. For milder horseradish, add vinegar to the root as you puree them. For a stronger flavor, puree the root first and wait a few minutes before adding vinegar.


Additional preparation tips:

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February 22, 2010

I was told that for really "hot" horseradish, you should harvest in either spring or fall. I can't remember which one. Maybe it really doesn't matter?


Hardiness Zone: 5b

By Jane from Spartansburg, PA


February 23, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Why don't you do both; if it's not hot enough the first time [that would be upcoming spring, right?] offer it to friends and family who like milder horseradish.

Being fresh, I am going to guess it will be plenty hot, regardless.

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February 22, 2010
By Ellen Brown

Harvesting Horseradish


When and how do I harvest horseradish? How do I prepare the root? I have searched for this for two years, and can't seem to find any information. Any input would be appreciated.

Hardiness Zone: 7a

Mary from Langhorne, PA



Horseradish is ready to harvest when roots reach a length of 12 to 18 inches long. Depending on a person's gardening zone, roots are harvested in either the early spring or late fall while the plant is still actively growing. Many gardeners prefer to harvest only as much as they need at any one time because the intensity of the root's flavor tends to fade with storage. After digging out the roots, cut off the crown and remove any of the smaller side roots.

Before you process the roots, mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of vinegar and set it aside. To process the roots, scrub them thoroughly and use a potato peeler or small knife to pare off the outer skin. Cut out any hollow or dark spots and slice the root into small chunks.

Use a food processor or hand grinder to grind down the chunks into a smaller size. This is strong stuff. If cutting onions makes you tear up slightly, horseradish roots will make you weep! The more coarsely you grind the roots the milder the end product will be. And here's where the vinegar comes in. As you grind down the roots you'll want to add some of the vinegar/water mixture to the ground horseradish.

The enzymatic action of the vinegar stabilizes the horseradish and determines the final degree of heat. If you like less heat, add some vinegar right away. If you like a lot of heat, wait three minutes before adding it. You can vary the ratio of vinegar to water or substitute lemon juice for vinegar to vary the taste. Add mayo to create creamy horseradish. Pack in small jars and store in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks. Roots can also be frozen, but will lose a bit of their flavor this way.


About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.


Harvesting Horseradish

Check the archives at Countryside magazine and Backwoods Home magazine. You should be able to Google it.

If you want really hot horseradish you have to grate it fresh each time, as it looses its heat when you can or store it. Good luck. (08/28/2006)

By Carla

Harvesting Horseradish

We have made horseradish for years. You have to peel it first, I use a stainless steel pad or scrape with knife. Do it under running water. Next cut it in small pieces and grind it in a meat grinder or something like it. Next put it in a blender and chop it as fine as you want. If you have a good grinder, you may not need a blender.

For every cup of horseradish add 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup sugar if you like it sweet, add less or more sugar. Be sure to do your grinding outdoors or with good ventilation. You will know why if you don't. We freeze ours and it stays pretty strong. We were told to harvest it in months with R's in them, I don't know why. We will be making some this fall. Hope this helps you. (08/28/2006)

By Jan

Harvesting Horseradish

My horseradish plant has been in place for 30 years. I sold the house, but I intend to get some to plant here. Heed the hint about ventilation. I have harvested year round, because I like it fresh. I think the months with R probably came from oysters with R months. There isn't any agriculture reason that I'm aware of.

Haven't put sugar in mine, but sounds like a good idea. I use vinegar to your preferred "wetness".
Have fun. (08/28/2006)

By Laura Justice

Harvesting Horseradish

My mom always used a snorkel and mask when grinding hers through the meat grinder. She didn't add anything to it as my father liked it full strength. (08/28/2006)

By Annie

Harvesting Horseradish

Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area, or better yet, outside. The last time I ignored that vital information, I spent two days in bed with asthma and my eyes swelled shut. It's worth it to take precautions. We love it. (08/23/2007)

By Coreen Hart

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