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Our Horseradish

Our products are always hand-prepared in small batches from high-quality horseradish roots grown on land known as the American Bottoms along the Mississippi River in southwestern Illinois. Unlike large-volume, commercially-prepared horseradish products, our roots are cleaned by hand one day prior to processing, then, peeled, sanitized, and given a kosher-salt bath to ensure purity of flavor. We add no artificial preservatives and rely solely on the horseradish root to impart the product’s “bite.” We do not use jalapeño pepper juice, spice derivatives, or other pepper oils to “heat” our horseradish. 

We process our products following guidelines established at Cornell University under FDA regulations. Each jar of Saw Mill Site Farm horseradish is made by us at the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center (WMFPC) in Greenfield, Massachusetts. WMFPC is a State- and Federally-inspected facility that promotes the development of independent food-related businesses. Because WMFPC is a collective, our products are prepared and bottled in a facility where allergen products may be stored or used by other processors.

At Saw Mill Site Farm we take pride in our products—reviewing advances in the evaluation and research of horseradish by leading researchers and institutions in order to produce the finest products. Each batch we produce is individually tested to insure a consistent, delicious taste.

We schedule production based on seasonal and traditional culinary demands, which means that our horseradish is produced using our small-batch, time/temperature controlled process every 3-6 weeks. Doing so, and maintaining a conservative inventory, ensures that you always get an exceptionally fresh product. Regulations allow us to put a 9 month “best by” freshness date on each jar.

Culinary History

Research substantiates that horseradish has been a part of many cultures for more than 3,000 years. It has been prized as an aphrodisiac and a treatment for a variety of ailments—such as rheumatism—it is the “bitter herb” of Passover Seders, and a flavorful condiment, accompaniment, and ingredient in hundreds of culinary dishes.

Legend has it that the Delphic oracle of ancient Greece told Apollo “The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, and the horseradish its weight in gold.” From the Greek and Roman Empires to those of Europe—particularly the Germanic, Scandinavian, and English—its use and value flourished. By the 1600s, English kitchen gardeners grew and prepared it as the condiment of choice for beef and oysters.

Horseradish came to America and by the early 1800s and was widely grown in kitchen gardens and used in many recipes and as a common condiment on the dinner table.

In our area of Western Massachusetts—known as the “Pioneer Valley” and the “breadbasket” for General Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War—horseradish was widely grown. Benedict Arnold, who served as Washington’s purchasing agent, visited Deerfield to buy food supplies for the Continental Army and one only hopes for the men being fed that his “grocery list” included horseradish!

In 1870, a enterprising Deerfield farmer by the name of Deacon John Greenough established the Greenough Pickling Company, which he operated for more than 55 years. Among his many products was horseradish. Greenough developed unique packaging, a catchy brand name—GREEN 0—and distinctive advertising copy. One of Greenough’s slogans was: “ If a man’s in love, that’s his business. If a girl’s in love, that’s her business. If anyone is in love with GOOD HORSERADISH, that’s my business.” We say amen to that! A truly an enterprising farmer, in 1924 at the age of 84, Greenough decided to expand his business and—recognizing the marketing medium of mail order—sent flyers advertising his product to women throughout the country. His brief bio and photos of Greenough and his horseradish packaging can
be found here.

We recently discovered some of the heirloom horseradish plants on Deacon Greenough’s old farm and—with the blessing of his grandson who still lives on the property and the help of another local farmer entrepreneur—we intend to try and revive some of these heirloom roots, propagate them, and make horseradish Deacon Greenough would be proud of. As many old sages say, “what goes around, comes around” . . . and that has always been my favorite aphorism.

To learn more about horseradish you may wish to visit:
Horseradish: A Root with Roots 

Recipes

There are plenty of sites on the web that you can visit to download recipes that use horseradish as an ingredient. Below you’ll find two of our favorites recipes—one for flank steak and another for salmon.

Before trying them, here are some tips on how to use horseradish in recipes.

  1. Remember this: To keep it hot, keep horseradish cold in a tightly-closed jar.

  2. Remove from the jar only what you reasonably think you will consume. Close the jar tightly and return it to the refrigerator at once. Never let it sit by a warm stove. Never return horseradish that has sat out back to a jar. Warm horseradish rapidly oxidizes and returning it to a jar will degrade the remaining product.

  3. Once a fresh bottle of horseradish is opened it’s at it’s best for 3–5 weeks. If you do not think you can use the horseradish up in a 3–5 week time frame, you can preserve the flavor by freezing the unused portion in the tightly closed jar provided the jar is not full. A full jar of horseradish put in the freezer will expand and crack.

  4. Do not use or transfer horseradish to a plastic storage container, even if marked “food grade plastic.” The flavoroids in horseradish are extremely volatile and through osmosis can penetrate plastic. In a short period of time your horseradish will lose its “zip” and discolor much faster than in a tightly-covered jar.

  5. As a general rule, add horseradish to sauces just before serving or garnishing.

  6. We do not recommend using our horseradish in recipes where cooking is an extended process. Our horseradish is a premium product that costs more than an ordinary, mass produced product. Some homemade BBQ sauce recipes call for a substantial quantity of horseradish, as well as a long cooking time. In such recipes, save money and use the cheapest horseradish you can buy. Many chef’s modify such recipes by adding quality horseradish, such as ours, to the sauce at the point of service.

Open-faced Skirt or Flank Steak  w/ Horseradish Sauce

  • 2-pound flank or skirt steak

  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced

  • 12 thin slices French bread

  • 3/4 cup beer or red wine

  • 3 med. onions, sliced thin

  • 1 cup sour cream, room temp.

  • 1 t. salt

  • 2 T. Olive Oil

  • 2 T. Frankie’s Original Style Horseradish

  • 1/4 t fresh-cracked black pepper

  • 6-8 mushrooms sliced thin

  • 1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce

Place the steak, beer or wine, salt, pepper, and garlic in a large “Ziploc” or freezer bag and marinate for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Sauté onions in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove steak from marinade. Add marinade and mushrooms to onions and continue to sauté over medium heat to reduce marinade by half. Broil steak on grill or in oven for approx. 5–7 minutes on each side, or to medium-rare doneness depending on thickness. While steak is broiling, toast French bread. Mix sour cream, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce together in a serving bowl.

Thinly slice the steak on the diagonal across the grain. Arrange desired amount of steak on 2 slices of toasted bread. Top with the hot onion/mushroom mixture and finish with sour cream horseradish sauce.

Horseradish Panko-Crusted Salmon Filets

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/2 t. dried dill weed

  • Four 5–6 oz. fresh salmon filets: boned, but with skin on

  • 2 T. Frankie’s Original or Marge’s Mustard Horseradish

  • 3 t. olive or melted butter

  • 1/2 cup Panko* Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix mayonnaise, your choice of horseradish, and dill weed in a small bowl. In a separate bowl drizzle 2 t. olive oil or melted butter over the Panko bread crumbs; set aside.

Season a large cast iron skillet or heavy baking pan with 1 t. olive oil, butter, or pan spray. Heat on a burner or in the oven for 3 minutes until pan is hot, but not smoking. Add salmon filets skin side down and bake for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and spread about 2 T. of the mayonnaise/horseradish mixture on each filet, then top each filet with 2 T. Panko crumbs, sprinkled evenly. Place pan under the broiler and broil until crumb mixture begins to lightly brown. Turn off broiler and let the fish sit in a 375° oven for 3-5 minutes before serving. Do not over cook. The skin preserves the flavor and form. The finished filet will separate easily from the skin when eaten. You may prefer to crisp the skin even longer before broiling and eat it as well.

* Panko, also known as Japanese bread crumbs, is widely available in the marketplace.

FAQs

  1. Where is horseradish grown commercially?
    In North America, about 66% of the commercial horseradish root is grown in Southwestern Illinois on land known as the American Bottoms near the Mississippi River. It is the most concentrated area of horseradish production in the world.
     

  2. What makes horseradish “hot”?
    If the horseradish is truly prepared as a pure product and is not doctored with pepper oils and other ingredients that add heat, the sharp, zippy flavor and penetrating smell of the pure product is due to the grating of the root. In that process, a chemical reaction takes place where the naturally highly-volatile oils contained in the root are released by the crushing and ensuing enzyme activity. If exposed to air or allowed to reach room temperature, the horseradish loses its pungency rapidly. That is why we work with only small-size batches under strictly-controlled time and temperature constraints.
     

  3. What’s in a name?
    According to the University of Illinois “Horseradish has nothing to do with horses and is not a radish (it’s a member of the mustard family). The name may have come from an English adaptation of its German name. In early times the plant grew wild in European coastal areas; the Germans called it ‘meerretich’ or ‘sea radish.’ The German word ‘meer’ sounds like the ‘mare’ in English. Perhaps ‘mare-radish’ eventually became ‘horseradish.’ The word ‘horseradish’ first appeared in print in 1597 in John Gerarde’s English herbal on medicinal plants.”
     

  4. Is wasabi horseradish?
    No, wasabi is an aquatic plant (wasabi japonica) grown in streams. It does have some similar taste characteristics, but when fresh is totally different in flavor and texture.
     

  5. Does horseradish need to be kept refrigerated?
    Because Saw Mill Site Farm horseradish products do not contain artificial preservatives, they need to be kept refrigerated at all times.

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