Sunday, March 24, 2013

Busy Saturday...
...Lazy Sunday

A Busy Saturday

We all say it, and it's true: the weekends are far to short! Yesterday was a busy day. I belong to a cycling club, and though it is still quite chilly here in Chicago, we had our Kickoff Party last night. As the coordinator of the event, I had some last minute things to do to get ready for the guests, but I did manage to get some personal stuff done as well. Among other things, I made a batch of horseradish. As I posted earlier, it is a relatively simple thing to do, and well worth the effort.

Assuming you don't grow your own horseradish, your best bet for buying a good quality root is to go to an ethnic market or natural foods store. I got mine at a Polish market, but I suspect you could also get great roots at a Jewish market.

Horseradish Root
(c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

Horseradish is an integral part of Polish Easter celebrations as well as the Jewish Seder. In the Seder, horseradish is the most common choice for the 'Maror' or bitter herb, a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. In the Polish tradition, the horseradish symbolizes the bitterness of Christ's sacrifice, and sometimes the horseradish is colored with beet juice to represent the blood of Christ. Like the Seder, the Polish Easter celebration is filled with symbolic foods and some sources suggest this is a Christianization of the Seder, recognizing that the 'Last Supper' (Good Friday) was indeed as Seder meal.

But I digress...

The first step, peel the root. Horseradish is dense and has a thick peel, a sharp potato peel or paring knife is in order. I recommend buying the root on the day you plan to make the horseradish. I had this root stored in a cool room, but it still dried out a little, which makes it a bit tough. In fact, I probably will get a fresh root this week and make another batch for the family dinner.

Peeled Horseradish
(c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

The next step is to cut the root into chunks (You don't want to burn out the motor on your blender!)

(c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

These two inch chunks proved to be a bit of struggle for my blender, so I cut it into finer pieces, less than inch.

(c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

The other ingredient is vinegar. I have a one-gallon plastic jug of vinegar in the kitchen, but that's the vinegar I use for cleaning. A good quality, white vinegar, in a GLASS bottle, is what you want for this project. Pour a cup or so of the vinegar in the blender with a third of the horseradish and blend on a high setting (my blender is a vintage 8 speed, so I used the highest setting). As the horseradish gets processed, stop the blender and add more horseradish and vinegar. You may have to stop the blender periodically to pop air bubbles (be careful, you DON'T want this splashing in your eyes!). If your blender has a 'pulse' option, you may want to try that. The goal is to puree the vinegar and horseradish together into a sort of 'horseradish smoothie'. I bought fairly sizable root and used about a pint of vinegar and ended up with a blender full of horseradish.

The Final Product
(c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I store it in sterilized mason jars. This year, I may try to store some of the extra in the freezer (though not in glass!). It is best made a week or less before the big day, especially if you want it to be a nice, bright white. Food safety is important, you don't want be sick, or make your guests sick. For recommendations/techniques on sterilizing the jars and guidelines on how long it will keep, check out the canning section of the USDA Website

A Lazy Sunday

After a busy Saturday, it was nice to have mellow sort of day. Sunday's are often a busy day for me. I normally like to spend the day cooking multiple dishes so I don't have to cook as much during the week, or, weather permitting, heading out with my camera and exploring the city. Today, not so much. I think it's good for our bodies and our souls to get some rest and unwind. When we are kids, we fight naps with every fiber of our being, but as an adult, I have developed a fondness for them, and I indulged in a rather lengthy one today. Relaxed and refreshed, I edited a few photos, and wrote this post, and I think that's plenty for today!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sending a Challah(Or is it HOLLAH?)for horseraddish!