Homemade Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish never used to be relegated to a little jar inconspicuously shelved in the refrigerator case in the supermarket. Horseradish, grated and turned into a relish or a sauce, was a frequent accompaniment to roasts and chicken, and a welcome spark of flavor in an otherwise often bland diet. Because horseradish is a long-lived and exceedingly easy to grow tap root, it was standard fare found on most rural tables in northeast America. My family didn’t come from that American farming culture, rather, my grandparents were immigrants from Russia, where horseradish was a year-round condiment. In the springtime it had a place of honor at the Seder table (a Seder being the home-based ritual and dinner celebrating freedom from slavery.)

I grow horseradish. My patch is at the periphery of the vegetable garden, as horseradish can become invasive. This is what it looks like early in the springtime. Only last week it was covered with snow, but now it’s shooting up green stalks, soon to unfurl into large leaves.

horseradish growing

Dig down a bit and you’ll find the long white root. It takes some pulling to get it out.

horseradish root

The tops aren’t edible – at least not by people, but the goats love them!

goats eating horseradish

They also like rubbing their heads against the root. It feels good and has a pungent odor that, according to goats, is the finest of perfumes.

rubbing head on horseradish

The root needs a thorough scrubbing.

wash it

The ends are cut off (save the tops) and the root is peeled. Meanwhile, I’ve also peeled a large, raw beet.


The beet and the horseradish are cut into chunks and put into a food processor. Good white wine vinegar is poured in (enough to bring the puree to the right texture) and a hint of salt and a bit of sugar is added.

add vinegar

Here it is on the Seder plate. It is called Maror, and is delicious with Charoset (a nut and apple mixture, seen on the bottom right of the photo) and gefilte fish. We also ate it with roast chicken.

seder plate

I sent the tops home with our guests. All they have to do to start their own horseradish patch is to tuck it into a sunny spot in their yard. Simply put it in a hole and cover up to the rim with dirt.




I don’t have to worry about the horseradish taking over the garden. My goats keep it in check, as they love eating the leaves. I don’t think that my friends will get goats to control their horseradish patch. But, they’ve already decided where to plant it – a spot at the edge of their yard where the distinctive large leaves will look good.

Who grows horseradish and how do you cook with it?


  1. We had to move our horseradish to a separate garden because it took over our real garden. I had a grandma and she lived on gefilte fish and chocolate Entenmann’s cake in her last 5-6 years of life. She tried to get me into gefilte fish but I never took a liking to it. We would grind up the horseradish like you do and it was quite yummy on roast beef sandwiches, steak etc.

  2. Love the horseradish head massage. I don’t grow horseradish but put about 1/2 tsp into my buttermilk and mayonnaise dressing for coleslaw or pasta salad. It’s not enough to identify easily but makes it taste bright and fresh.

  3. We love horseradish (fabulous on hard boiled eggs) and have some growing in a small bed. Usually my husband takes on the pungent task of processing the root and mixing it with vinegar, salt and a bit of sugar (we don’t usually use beet). We then freeze jars of it for later use. Freezing it results in a small reduction of the “kick,” but it’s still wonderful!

    Problem this year is that I can’t have any sugar. Do you have any experience using just vinegar and salt? Any idea what leaving the sugar out will do to the final product?


    • I’ve made it without the sugar and it’s still good. You could try roasting the beet first to bring out the sweetness.

  4. I grow it in large garbage cans. That way, it doesn’t escape into the yard or garden. When it’s time to harvest, we just dump out the whole thing over a tarp. Then we don’t worry about broken ends stuck in the ground and growing back and taking over.

  5. Love horseradish…just had it tonight with a yummy roast beef sandwich. Never thought of growing it.

  6. Last year my friend grew radishes in my yard and they all turned out long and white. He wouldn’t eat them, he said they were to hot, now I know why they were so hot! LOL Oh well I liked them!

  7. doesn’t it make the goats eyes water? I remember being given the job of grating the horseradish at a friend’s house – we had to do it in the old coal house where it was cool and we wore swimming goggles; still we wept all afternoon. I love it with beef – there’s that dread of the burning in your nose but it’s quite exciting when it hits. I need to get out more…

    • Goats have bizarre, picky tastes. The boys turned their noses up at beet greens. Too bitter. But they love horseradish leaves (not the roots) and love, love, love, having the stinky root rubbed between their horns stubs. I still can’t figure those boys out!