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Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Brassicaceae (cabbage family).
The plant is thought to be of Mediterranean or Eastern European origin, and is now widely cultivated in Central and Eastern Europe.
Used plant part
Root, nearly always used fresh or pickled.
Intact horseradish root does not exhibit much aroma, but on cutting, shredding and especially grating, a pungent and lachrymatory, very strong odour is released. This odour is, however, not stable but vanishes after some ten or twenty minutes.
Japanese horseradish, also called wasabi, is nearly indistinguishable from horseradish in taste, but a little bit stronger.
The pungent principle of horseradish is allyl isothiocyanate, which is enzymatically produced from sinigrin, like in mustard.
Horseradish (flowering plant) (Source)
Horseradish is a very popular spice in Central and Northern Europe, where the fresh root is grated and eaten together with ham or cooked or roasted meat (e.g., British roastbeef); at Easter time, ham with horseradish is a traditional meal in Austria. Since the aroma is so volatile and instable, the tearful process of grating must be repeated several times during the meal. Tinned horseradish products are available, but true lovers of the root think them inferior, though much more convenient.
The pungent allyl isothiocyanate is not heat resistant; therefore, horseradish is only seldom used for warm dishes and then added immediately before serving. Even in cold water, allyl isothiocyanate is not stable for longer than a few minutes. However, in sour environment the hydrolysis of thiocyanates takes place much more slowly.
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