Horseradish has a tingling, biting flavor that goes straight up the nose into the brain. Many find this sharp taste exhilarating; we love it in cocktail dip and egg salad. But its bite is often muffled by lack of freshness or too many competing ingredients in jarred sauces. If you really love horseradish, then fresh is the way to go.
Horseradish is also one of the traditional bitter herbs arranged on the seder plate during Passover, so during this week as Passover is observed it should be even easier to find in the groceries.
It belongs to the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) family, along with mustard greens, broccoli rabe and Brussels sprouts. Look for a heavy, firm root; it looks like a thick brown carrot or pale yam.
We are giving approximate measurements here since a lot depends on how thin or thick or want your sauce to be. For other tips and recipes (not to mention a rather goofy website) check out the Horseradish Information Council.
D.I.Y. Horseradish Sauce
About 1/2 pound horseradish root
Very cold water
Apple cider vinegar
Peel the root with a vegetable peeler, then cut into small pieces. Pile them, in shifts if need be, into a food processor. Add enough cold water to cover the blades of the food processor, as well as some salt. If you're using a larger 6 or 8-cup processor, add a teaspoon. If you're using a smaller 3 or 4-cup chopper, add 1/2 teaspoon. Blend until well grated. Add more water if you want a looser texture. At the end blend in 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or to taste. The vinegar stops the browning process and preserves the root.
This is the most straight-up horseradish sauce you can make! If you want something a little gentler, mix the grated preparation made here with some mayonnaise or sour cream.