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Definition: horseradish from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Hardy perennial plant, native to southeastern Europe but naturalized elsewhere. The thick cream-coloured root is strong-tasting and is often made into a savoury sauce to accompany food. (Armoracia rusticana, family Cruciferae.)

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horseradish


Summary Article: Horseradish: Armoracia rusticana
From Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices
Taxonomy

Name currently accepted: Armoracia rusticana

Authority: G. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb

Taxonomic serial no.: 23044 (ITIS, 2016)

Synonyms: Armoracia armoracia (L.) Britt., Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib., Armoracia sativa Bernhardi, Armoracia rustica Schur., Cardamine armoracia (L.) Kuntze, Cochlearia armoracia L., Cochlearia lancifolia Stokes, Cochlearia lapathifolia Gilib., Cochlearia rusticana Lam., Cochlearia variifolia Salisb., Crucifera armoracia E.H.L. Krause, Nasturitium armoracia (L.) Fr., Raphanis magna Moench, Raphanus rusticana Garsault, Rorippa armoracia (L.) Hitche., Rorippa rusticana (P. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb.) Godr. (Anon., 2010).

Family: Brassicaceae (Kingdom: Plantae; Subkingdom: Viridiplantae; Infrakingdom: Streptophyta; Superdivision: Embryophyta; Division: Tracheophyta; Subdivision: Spermatophytina; Class: Magnoliopsida; Superorder: Rosanae; Order: Brassicales; Family: Brassicaceae; Tribe: Cardamineae; Genus: Armoracia; Species: rusticana; Binomial: Armoracia rusticana G. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb).

Common name: Horseradish.

Regional/vernacular names: Arabic: fajl haar; Bulgarian: rân, khryan; Chinese: la gen; Czech: krˇen, krˇen selský; Danish: peberrod; Dutch: boereradijs, kreno, meredik; Finnish: piparjuur; French: cranson, cran, cran de bretagne, grand raifort, moutarde des allemands, raifort cran; German: kren, meeretisch (alsace), meerradi (alsace), meerrettich; Greek, modern: armorakia, chreno; Hungarian: közönséges torma, közönséges torma, torma; Italian: barba forte, barbaforte, cren, crenno, rafano; Japanese: ho-su-ra-de-si-(yu), hoosu radiishu; Korean: gyeo-ja-mu, gyeo-jamu, kyo-jamu; Norwegian: pepperrot; Persian: torob, trb; Polish: chrzan, chrzan pospolity; Portuguese: rábano picanto, rábano silvestre, rábanao, rabanete raiz-forte (Brazil); Romanian: hrean; Russian: chren, hren, khren, khren obyknovennyi; Spanish: rábano picante, rábano rusticano, taramago; Swahili: mrong; Swedish: pepparot, pepparrot; Thai: hosraedich; Turkish: bayır turpu, yaban turbu; Vietnamese: ren, hren, cây rau họ, cây caˀi ngụ ʼa (Katzer, 1998; Anon., 2013a).

Introduction

Horseradish is a perennial herbaceous plant, originating in the southern part of Russia and the eastern part of Ukraine (Tucker and DeBaggio, 2009). Horseradish had been under cultivation for many centuries and the plant has been valued for its culinary and medicinal benefits. Ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated this herb and used it for curing back pain and menstrual cramps (Wright, 2010). In the Middle Ages, horseradish became popular as a culinary herb in Europe; it was valued for spicing beef roasts. It reached the USA in 18th century and became very popular there and large-scale cultivation ensued. The Colinville region of Illinois, USA, in the course of time earned the name of horseradish capital of the world and the annual horseradish show is organized here. It is now widely grown in the USA, Canada, the whole of Europe, South-east Asia, in the cool hilly tracts in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (Nichols and Jansen, 1999).

There are two variants of horseradish, which are recognized even as far back as the 16th century and are still being recognized as such. They are the ‘smooth’ or Bohemian form, which has narrow leaves with an acute leaf base and solid petiole. It lacks good root quality and yield but has important disease resistance characteristics. The ‘crinkled’ or ‘Maliner kren’ form has broad leaves with a cordate leaf base and hollow petiole, and is the most widely grown type (Small, 2006).

Botanical Notes

Horseradish is a herbaceous perennial that is mostly grown as an annual. The plant grows in clumps with leaves that radiate out from the main taproot. Horseradish plants are erect, glabrous herbs reaching a height of up to 1.5 m. The primary root (taproot) is thick, often several-headed, cylindrical to conical, up to 50 cm long, woody in the wild, fleshy in cultivated plants, yellowish-white, developing long secondary roots and subterranean runners. The stem is single or multiple, straight, branched in upper part, ribbed and hollow. Leaves are smooth or crinkled; lower leaves (initially produced leaves) are in a rosette, long-petioled, ovate–oblong with an acute or cordate base, 30–100 cm long, irregularly crenate–lanceolate and coarsely serrate. Upper leaves or cauline leaves are spirally arranged; the lower ones are petioled, often pinnatilobed–pinnatipartite, higher ones gradually becoming subsessile, lanceolate and crenate–serrate or subentire. The inflorescence is a raceme, 20–40 cm long, many-flowered, with racemes combined into a terminal panicle. The flowers are pedicellate, the pedicels 5–10 mm long in flower, while up to 2 cm in fruit. Sepals are four, broadly ovate, 3 mm long; petals are four, cruciform, broadly obovate, 5–7 mm long and white; stamens are six, four of which are longer (tetradynamous); disc glands are united into a ring. The pistil is with a glabrous, bicarpellary, syncarpous, superior ovary, short style, slightly lobed stigma and has 8–12 ovules. The fruit is a siliqua, globose to broadly obovoid, 4–6 mm long, two-valved and abruptly contracted into the style. Seed setting is poor; seeds are 1–6 per fruit. Flowering is May–July. The chromosome number is 2n = 32 (Nichols and Jansen, 1999; Cheo et al., 2013; CCDB, 2015).

Outside its natural area, horseradish easily runs wild and survives along roads, fields, in hedges and places with a relatively rich soil. The species is quite variable in leaf size and form, in pungency of the root and in disease resistance. Possibly, horseradish originated from an interspecific hybrid, which may explain the occasional presence of sterile plants.

Horseradish cultivars can be grouped into three classes on the basis of the gross morphology of the tuberous root and leaf character:

  • Type I: (heart-shaped base) Smooth leaves (e.g. ‘Big Top Western’, Bohemian’ ‘Sass’.)

  • Type II: (intermediate type) Smooth leaves (e.g. Swiss’)

  • Type III: (tapered base) Crinkled leaves (e.g. ‘Maliner Kren’ sometimes referred to as ‘common’, crinkled leaves) (Wright, 2010).

Many cultivars are prevalent among the growers, such as ‘Big Top Western’ (leaves smooth), ‘Common’ (leaves crinkled), ‘Swis’ (leaves smooth), Spangsbjerg, Frieslander, etc. Big Top is a vigorous form that is suitable for most sites and is resistant to foliage diseases, rust and bacteria spot. Bohemian is a hardy, easy to grow cultivar that produces large white roots, though of inferior quality. Hybrid is an outstanding variety with superior disease resistance, smoother roots and larger yields. Maliner Kren is a vigorous grower, producing large white roots and it is earlier, larger and whiter than the standard type (Nichols and Jansen, 1999). Other varieties include: ‘Variegata’, which has green leaves splashed with white, ornamental; ‘Wildroot’, which has a strong, hot, spicy flavour; ‘Czechoslovakian’, which is a newer commercial variety with a milder taste than other cultivars (Wright, 2010).

Chemical Notes

Horseradish root contains significant quantity of the enzyme peroxidase and lots of studies have gone into this component (Veitch, 2004). Horseradish peroxidase is produced commercially for use in food industry as well as for use as a laboratory agent for chemical diagnosis. Many chemicals can be modified by the catalytic activity of this enzyme.

The most important group of compounds that contributes to the pungency and flavour quality is the glucosinolates (sinigrin, glucobrassicin, neoglucobrassicin and gluconasturitin). The other important constituents are myrosinase, plastoquinone-9, sitosterol glycosides (such as the biologically active 6-O-acyl-β-D-glucosyl-β-sitosterol), 1,2-dilinolenoyl-3-galactosylglycerol and phosphatidylcholines. When the horseradish tissues are damaged by cutting, grating or chewing, the hydrolytic enzyme myrosinase (thioglucoside glucohydrolase) is released. This enzyme hydrolyses the glucosinolates, initially producing an unstable intermediate that spontaneously rearranges to produce several products, such as isothiocyanates, nitriles, thiocyanates, indoles and oxazolidinethiones, depending on factors such as pH, substrate or availability of ferrous ions (Yu et al., 2001; Li and Kushad, 2005; Weil et al., 2005; Daniela et al., 2006; Anon., 2010; Nguyen et al., 2013).

Horseradish also contains a bitter resin, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, peroxidase, phenylethyl-isothiocyanate, phenylpropyl-isothiocyanate, phosphatase, sinigrin, butylisothiocyanate, isopropylisothiocyanate, limonene, raphanin, sinapic acid, etc. Horseradish leaves contain compounds such as 3-O-β-D-glucosyl-β-D-kaempferol-xyloside, 3-O-β-D-glucosyl-β-D-quercetin-xyloside, 3-O-β-D-kaempferol-glucoside, 3-O-β-D-quercetin-glucoside, bioside, kaempferol, quercetin and rutoside (Anon., 2010; Nguyen et al., 2013; Tomsone et al., 2013; Calabrone et al., 2015; Duke, 2016) (see the chapters on mustard and wasabi).

Horseradish root on distillation gives oil in a very low yield and this oil resembles closely the essential oil of mustard. The oil does not exist preformed in the roots, but is formed during the cutting and grating or crushing process preceding the extraction. Dried root does not yield any oil and does not have any pungency due to the inactivation of the myrosinase enzyme (Nguyen et al., 2013; Tomsone et al., 2013).

Functional Properties

Duke (2002) has given a long list of functional properties for horseradish. The functional properties depend mainly on the isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are reported to possess chemo-preventive properties against specific human cancers. 1,2-Dilinolenoyl-3-galactosylglycerol isolated from horseradish rhizomes dose-dependently inhibited the proliferation of colon cancer cells (HCT-116) and lung cancer cells (NCI-H460). An animal study also supports the results. In in-vitro and animal studies horseradish was shown to possess anti-coagulant and anti-hypertensive activities. In an in vitro study using isolates from horseradish, plastoquinone-9 and 6-O-acyl-β-D-glucosyl-β-sitosterol selectively inhibited the COX-1 (cyclooxygenase-1) enzyme by 28% and 32%, respectively. At a concentration of 250 mcg/ml, 1,2-dilinolenoyl-3-galactosylglycerol showed 75% inhibition of COX-1 (Weil et al., 2004, 2005; Albrecht, 2007; Anon., 2013b) (See the chapter on mustards).

Horseradish peroxidase has oxidative and radical-scavenging activities in vitro. Horseradish peroxidase has an oxidizing effect against some of the known endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol A (2,2-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl-propane), p-nonylphenol and p-octylphenol. Horseradish has been shown to possess antibacterial and antifungal activities against many organisms (Sakuyama et al., 2003; Mucete et al., 2006). In vitro and some animal studies also indicated anti-thyroid activity, insecticidal activity and anti-mutagenic activity (Kinae et al., 2000; Anon., 2010).

Uses
Medicinal uses

Horseradish has been in use as a medicinal herb from ancient times; Wedelsbäck Bladh and Olsson (2011) traced its history from antiquity to the present. It was held as a panacea and herbalists recommended it for almost every ailment and for all ailments associated with the digestive system. In the Middle Ages, horseradish was recommended for treating asthma, arthritis and toothache (Small, 2006). Horseradish root paste was recommended for use as a poultice for curing itching, skin irritation and for improving circulation. Leaf paste is used as a poultice on the chest for removing chest congestion and colds. Root extract was used as an expectorant for coughs, colds and hoarseness. Root made into a paste was recommended for treating pleurisy, arthritis and infected wounds, as well as for relieving pain of chilblains (Wright, 2010). Native Americans, used horseradish for curing toothache and menstrual cramps. Even now horseradish is in use widely in Europe and America, and herbal medicine specialists recommend it for some of the ailments mentioned above. Horseradish paste when applied to the skin can cause skin blistering and hence caution should be exercised to prevent it (Bown, 1995; Chevellier, 1996; Foster and Duke, 2000). Horseradish is a diuretic; earlier the herbal practitioners prescribed its intake for curing calculus and for the treatment of dropsy (Grieve, 1971; Chevallier, 1996). A horseradish infusion in milk was recommended as a skin tonic and an infusion in white vinegar used for removing skin freckles. Horseradish syrup in sugar was used for removing hoarseness and for clearing the sinus (Goodman, 2009). Currently in Europe, the herbalists recommend horseradish as a diuretic, vermifuge and for gastrointestinal tract irritation. It is also recommended for use externally for ailments like sciatica and neuralgia of the face (DerMardosian and Beutler, 2006). The German Commission E approves horseradish for internal and external use in catarrhs of the respiratory tract, internally as supportive therapy for urinary tract infections, externally for the hyperaemic treatment of minor muscles aches. Horseradish should not be given, however, to those suffering from kidney disorders, and intestinal and stomach ulcers. Its use in children below 5 years is not advised (Khare, 2007). In homeopathic medicine, horseradish tincture is recommended for eye inflammation, upper respiratory tract infections and abdominal colic (Gruenwald et al., 2000).

The enzyme horseradish peroxidase is a useful tool for detecting antibodies in the molecular biology field. Research is being conducted on the herb to explore the possibility that the compounds it holds may help prevent cancer.

Culinary uses

The Horseradish Information Council (HIC, 2015a) has published detailed information on culinary uses of horseradish and the methods of its use. Horseradish is a widely used spice and condiment, especially in Europe and America; the root, leaf and seed are used as spices. The well-known horseradish sauce is made from the grated root and mixed with vinegar and sugar, as well as other ingredients. Young leaves are also used for flavouring; they are added to salads and soups that impart a pleasant spicy and pungent flavour and taste to the dish. Seeds are sprouted and then used in salads. According to Dalal (2016), horseradish is a perfect spice for use in fatty food. In America, horseradish is a favourite flavouring in party dips. With grated apple it makes a sharp dressing for fish and in tomato-based sauces, such as a ‘seafood sauce’ for shrimp cocktails (a blend of horseradish, ketchup, tomatoes and lemon juice). It can be mixed to a paste in the same way as mustard and used similarly as a condiment.

For getting the best flavour, horseradish root has to be grated afresh every time just before use. Horseradish can be combined with other items to make simple sauces or spice blends. It can be combined with cream or mayonnaise for a salad dressing, or can be added to vinegar and salt for use on roasted beef and chicken. Horseradish mixed with whipped cream produces a wonderful sauce to be used with ham and beef dishes (Small, 2006).

Prepared horseradish is the form in which it is used most popularly now. Prepared horseradish (similar to prepared mustard) refers to peeled, cleaned and ground horseradish that is preserved in vinegar and bottled. In processed and prepared horseradish, vinegar stops the enzymatic reaction of myrosinase and stabilizes the flavour. So the degree of heat is determined by the stage at which vinegar is added to the fresh horseradish. For milder horseradish, vinegar is added immediately after grinding or even at the time of grinding. Like prepared mustard, prepared horseradish is also a condiment used as an accompaniment to many dishes. It can also be used as a spice while cooking. The main use, however, is in horseradish sauce. Cream, sour cream or wine can provide a common base for the traditional English sauce to accompany roast beef; sometimes spices such as garlic, mustard and pepper are added. Prepared horseradish is used to make salad dressings or dips (Dalal, 2016).

Horseradish has been used in the preparation of many hundreds of dishes all over the world, most popularly in East and West Europe, the USA and Canada (Facciola, 1998; Katzer, 1998; Small, 2006; Wright, 2010). The Horseradish Information Council provides comprehensive information on recipes involving horseradish, which includes recipes for appetizers, main course dishes, side dishes, beverages and recipes for children (HIC, 2015b,c).

Safety Issues

The use of horseradish should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation because the allyl isothiocyanates are mucosal irritants. Horseradish has abortifacient effects (Newall et al., 1996). The use of horseradish is contraindicated to people who are allergic to cruciferous (cabbage family) vegetables; it should not be used by patients suffering from stomach or intestinal ulcers (Gruenwald et al., 2007). The ingestion of large amounts can cause bloody vomiting and diarrhoea (Newall, 1996; Brinker, 1998; Anon., 2013b).

Topical application may cause an erythematous rash or allergic reaction because of the glucosinolate content. Horseradish is part of the cabbage and mustard family so it may depress thyroid function. The isothiocyanates may irritate mucous membranes upon contact or inhalation (Chevallier, 1996; Anon., 2013b). Its use is not recommended for children below 5 years (Gruenwald et al., 2007).

Despite all such effects, horseradish is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as a natural seasoning and flavouring.

References
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