Rooted in Flavor: Horseradish

Ancestry Magazine. This Work Copyright 2009, Inc., all rights reserved.To see the work in its original context and to view others like it, visit  • September 25st, 2009


My grandfather, a farmer, used to say that growing horseradish required tender, loving care. As it grew, he would periodically dig his hands around the plant’s roots to loosen up the soil. “When it comes to horseradish,” he would say, “roots are all.”

Each spring, Grandpa grated the odorless tubers outdoors on a foot-worked wheel with protruding metal teeth. As he progressed, stirring in beet juice for color and vinegar to stabilize the mixture, the horseradish released its volatile oils. My sinuses sang, my nose tingled, and my eyes watered mercilessly. But enjoying a smear of Grandpa’s horseradish atop a piece of gefilte fish or sliced brisket was heaven.

Horseradish Beet Condiment

Note: Though there are no exact measurements, you can’t go wrong.  All results are similar — and breathtaking.

  • Wash, peel, and grate a horseradish root.   
  • Add a little salt, sugar, and vinegar, to taste.   
  • Add cooked, grated beets (for color) at a 1:3 ratio, until a rich red color   is reached.   
  • Inhale. Enjoy immediately for freshest flavor anywhere piquancy is    preferred.