Known for its sharp odor and strong taste, horseradish can be divisive in the culinary world. But though the taste may not be for everyone, the nutritional benefits aren’t up for debate.
Distill the nutritive qualities of the plant into a horseradish tincture for a fast-acting health supplement that your body can easily absorb.
What is Horseradish?
Horseradish (Amoracia rusticana) shares the Brassica plant family with many garden-fresh favorites, including broccoli, mustards, and radishes. This perennial plant is native to Southeastern Europe and Western Asia, but is currently grown around the world. In fact, it’s incredibly resilient and can thrive in hardiness zones 1 through 9. The entire plant is edible, but the highest concentration of flavor and nutrients is found in the large tap root.
The name “horseradish” comes from an international game of telephone. In Germany, horseradish grows along the coast, giving it the name “sea radish,” or meerrettich. To an English speaker, the German name sounds like “mare radish,” which eventually evolved into the colloquial name horseradish.
Horseradish Health Benefits
Peppery and pungent, horseradish is used to spice up culinary creations worldwide. However, in addition to being a delightful condiment, its nutritive qualities make it a powerful herbal supplement and natural remedy. The secret behind the medicine? The root contains a chemical compound called sinigrin that helps defend the plant from herbivory. When the plant is intact, sinigrin is static, but if the root is damaged (e.g. grated, chopped, bitten), sinigrin breaks down into allyl isothiocyanate. Also known as mustard oil, this evolved compound gives the plant both its intense flavor and several of its health benefits.
Fights Inflammation & Infection
Along with other members of the mustard family that share the same chemical compounds, horseradish can help fight chronic inflammation. Sinigrin and its associated chemicals alter the way the immune system creates inflammation.
Additionally, these same compounds have antimicrobial properties. Allyl isothiocyanate kills harmful pathogens and boosts your immune system.
Prevents Cell Damage
Horseradish is a great source of natural antioxidants which can neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals. Because of this, horseradish prevents cell damage and can reduce the chances of developing some cancers.
Promotes Respiratory Health
If you’ve ever eaten horseradish, you’ve likely gotten a burning sensation that makes your nose run and eyes water. While this can be an adventurous part of eating the root, it also can provide some relief from mucus buildup. One study found that taking a supplement with dried horseradish and nasturtium effectively treated both sinus infections and bronchitis.
Along with its medicinal benefits, horseradish is generally nutritious and can enhance general health as a dietary supplement. The root contains hearty amounts of calcium, fiber, potassium, manganese, folate, magnesium, and vitamin C. Ensure that you get the daily recommended value of each of these important vitamins and minerals, by incorporating a horseradish tincture into your daily routine.
Supports Healthy Digestion
Some of the nutritive properties of horseradish make it a cholagogue. This is any substance that promotes the production and release of bile from the gallbladder. Bile allows the liver to efficiently digest fat and helps the body maintain healthy digestion. Incorporating cholagogue foods, like horseradish into your diet will ensure that your liver and gallbladder are functioning flawlessly.
Additionally, horseradish can boost metabolism. The root contains compounds called isothiocyanates along with high amounts of iron and calcium which all support a healthy metabolism.
How to Make Horseradish Tincture
In this recipe, we use vodka because of its neutral taste and combine the horseradish with a bit of ginger and cloves to create a more complex and palatable tincture. When serving your tincture, you can mix a bit of honey to add some sweetness.
Ingredients and materials
- 3–4-inch section of fresh horseradish (about 75 grams)
- 1–2-inch section of fresh ginger (about 25 grams)
- 3 cups vodka (750ml bottle)
- Honey (optional)
- Mason jar
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
Step 1: Prepare the Roots. The first step to making a horseradish tincture is to prepare the roots. Rather than tossing a chunk of horseradish in the jar, it’s important to thinly slice it to increase the surface area. The sinigrin is only activated once the root is chopped, so this increases the extraction of the nutritive properties. For the best results, peel the horseradish and slice it into thin discs. If you have a mandoline, that would be perfect. Peel and cut the ginger as well. For this recipe, I just made small chunks.
Step 2: Mix in Mason Jar. The next step is to mix your tincture. Put the sliced horseradish and ginger into a mason jar and sprinkle in a few cloves if you’d like the depth of flavor. Pour in the bottle of vodka and screw the lid on tightly. Give the jar a few shakes to mix thoroughly.
Step 3: Extraction. Store the tincture in a dark place, like a cupboard or closet. Shake the jar at least once per day for the first week, then let sit for up to six weeks.
Step 4: Strain. After you’ve let the tincture work its magic, you can strain the roots from the liquid. Using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, pour the contents of the jar into a quart measuring cup. Then, you can pour the tincture in a dropper bottle if you’d like.
Using Horseradish Tincture
Once you’ve made your extract, you can use it in a variety of ways. If your sinuses are clogged, take 5-10 drops as needed. Depending on the strength of your tincture, you can increase or decrease the dose. For a routine supplement, you can take drops, or incorporate the extract into a homemade fire cider or salad dressing.
Warnings and Cautions
Horseradish may be safe to use as medicine for up to 12 weeks. If you consume too much horseradish, it may irritate your mouth, nose, or stomach. It may be especially irritating for people suffering from stomach ulcers, digestive problems, or IBS. Finally, it is unknown whether high doses of horseradish are safe for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women.
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