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What is Horseradish?
Horseradish is a root plant from the mustard family. The root is harvested in the spring and fall and is sold to processors who grate the root, releasing the oils that distinguish horseradish from all other flavors. The oil creates a hot and spicy flavor.
The ground horseradish is mixed with distilled vinegar to stabilize the "heat." This basic formula may also contain other spices or ingredients, such as sugar, salt, cream or vegetable oil. Additional ingredients vary by processors.
Generally speaking, ground horseradish and vinegar are the primary components in the basic prepared horseradish on the market. In the United States, an estimated 24 million pounds of horseradish roots are ground annually to produce 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish. Collinsville, Illinois and the surrounding area provides the perfect climate for growing horseradish.
Cold winters provide dormancy for the root and the long warm summers are excellent for growing. The soil is rich in potash, which is a vital nutrient in the growth of the horseradish.
Bring on the Heat!
Horseradish is a member of the Mustard family, sharing lineage with kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and the common radish. It is cultivated for its thick, fleshy white root.
So, what makes horseradish hot? The bite and aroma of the horseradish root are almost absent until it is grated or ground. During this process, as the root cells are crushed and volatile oils (known as isothiocyanates) are released. Vinegar is added to stop this reaction and stabilize the flavor. The amount of time between grinding and the introduction of the vinegar determine the level of "heat".
FACT: Collinsville, Illinois produces approximately 60% of the world's horseradish each year. The Southern Illinois area grows 80% - 85% of the world's horseradish.
FACT: Horseradish contains NO fat and NO cholesterol.
FACT: Finely ground horseradish produces more "heat" than coursely ground horseradish.
FACT: As horseradish ages and turns from white to brown it looses much of its flavor and bite.
FACT: While the horseradish is cultivated primarily for its roots, the plant of the horseradish is also edible.
FACT: Horseradish is also known as "redcole" and "stingnose".
FACT: Horseradish was used to make Horseradish ale in the 17th Century.
FACT: In the Southern United States, during the late 1800's, horseradish was commonly believed to cure headaches. It was common to rub horseradish on your forehead to relieve the headache. Although there is no scientific evidence that this method works some people still swear by it, even today.
Do you have an interesting horseradish story, fact or recipe? We'd like to hear from you. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can mail it to Horseradish Festival c/o: Collinsville Chamber of Commerce, 221 West Main St., Collinsville, IL 62234. Items submitted may be used to promote horseradish and the International Horseradish Festival. We are unable to compensate anyone for their submission.
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Collinsville Herald Journal
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McCarthy Building Company
International Horseradish Festival
- Always the first weekend in June -
May 31 - June 2, 2013
Woodland Park, Collinsville, Illinois