Although my blog posts often include suggestions about ingredients or cooking methods, I’m not one of those helpful writers whose cooking tips appear neatly at the foot of the relevant post.
Do NOT mince fresh horseradish on your kitchen bench while you are drying hot chillies in your oven! Or tears will be shed, and well before bedtime. As they were in our house last weekend.
After a dry and warm first two months of our 2016 autumn, as confirmed by our latest water bill, we have finally received enough rain to help loosen up the clay component of the soil where we grow our crop of horseradish. Knowing that plenty of showers were forecast for Friday, we removed all the leaves a day ahead to expose the soil. By Saturday morning, the weather was clear again so, before a further downpour due on Sunday morning, we got to work digging up the horseradish roots.
In patches, it was still heavy going and the extent of the root system was much greater than in previous years, so we stopped when we had gone about one-third of the way. We will try to dig up the balance within the next couple of weeks.
Once I had finished digging, Maggie took the harvest of roots and crowns, washed them a couple of times, drained them on some old towels, put the crowns aside for replanting and peeled and cut the roots in readiness for her to process through our electric mincer.
Meanwhile, I had resumed the time-consuming task of drying the last batch from this year’s chilli crop in our oven.
Even with the protection of her contact lenses, the combination of the vapours from the horseradish and chillies was too much for Maggie and she had to grab some tissues and retreat to our bathroom! I opened up the house to the fresh wind, while Maggie took the minced roots and white vinegar outside to complete the work of putting the horseradish into jars to be stored in our refrigerator.
The whole exercise will have to be repeated two more times but, with some luck and better management, Maggie should get through it without being reduced to tears.