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. In 2011, the International Herb Association named it the 2011 Herb of the Year.
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 which served as the breadbasket for General Washington’s army—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 more catchy 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.
Culinary and Local History