A SIMPLE SAUCE FOR FRESH ROOTS
Consumers accustomed to getting their horseradish in little glass jars may be intimidated by fresh horseradish. It's big, brown and gnarly on one end, and looks more like a toy for those bone-tossing primates in the opening scene of "2001: A Space Odyssey" than a side dish for prime rib.
Even the meekest cooks can make their own fresh horseradish by following this recipe for "Volcanic Horseradish Sauce," from Steven Raichlen's "Healthy Jewish Cooking."
Peel 1 pound fresh horseradish root. Cut into 1/2-inch slices. Finely chop the root in a food processor; add 2/3 cup distilled white vinegar, 3 tablespoons dry white wine, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Process until it becomes a creamy puree. If working by hand, grate the whole peeled root on the fine side of a box grater. Transfer to bowl, stir in the vinegar, wine, sugar and salt. Store horseradish sauce in a covered container and refrigerate up to 2 months.
LOOKING OUT FOR NO. 1
Fresh horseradish comes in a variety of sizes. Most expensive is called "No. 1" and is the root most often seen in supermarkets across the country.
During the growing season, growers carefully trim away by hand the secondary roots and shoots to focus the plant's energy on growing a large taproot. When pulled, the root looks like a really big parsnip. To deserve No. 1 classification, a root has to be 6 inches or more in length and not less than 1 inch in diameter.
These premium roots are most in demand at Easter and Passover, said Dennis Diekemper, manager of J.R. Kelly Co., a horseradish supplier in Collinsville. Roots destined for Passover use are sent untrimmed with a crown of slender green leaves. Wipe off the dirt and the leaves don't taste too bad--just like horseradish but milder. The heat rolls in a second or two after chewing.