A Recipe: Homemade Horseradish

Homemade horseradish found its way to our table this week, and it’s hot – painfully hot, pleasurably hot, perfectly hot. When fresh horseradish root appears at market, which is rarely, I fight my way to it – elbowing into the stand before the other Weston A Price Foundation and fermentation enthusiasts in my community can beat me to the precious, potent and gnarled roots.  I beg for first pick, “Now, Betsy,” I plead, “When you pick horseradish, let me know – I’ll buy lots and lots.  I’ll buy it all.”  And when the pickling cucumbers are ready for harvest come August, I ask again, but this time for the long dark green leaves which are my not-so-best-kept secret to producing a good sour pickle.

It takes a bit of forthrightness, a bit of ruggedness and unwavering determination to prepare homemade horseradish.  You see, it’s a painful process – literally.  Fresh horseradish is rich in volatile oils, after all, that’s what makes the root so darn tasty, but it’s these volatile oils that fill the air with an eye-burning intensity that only the most steadfast fermentation lovers can withstand in their quest for that perfect, probiotic condiment.  Many recipes for homemade horseradish require vinegar which helps to set the heat level of the horseradish root, but I prefer the longer method of fermentation which imbues the condiment with a boost of beneficial bacteria.

Horseradish is a member of the brassica family – the same family of plants that fives us broccoli, cabbage, turnips and radishes – each with their characteristic biting, if mild, mustard-like flavor.  That biting flavor found in brassicas and, most potently, in mustard and horseradish is due to the content of allyl isothiocynanate which is stored in an inactive form in plants and released once that plant is cut, grated or chewed as a deterrent to animals.  Of course, I find it appealing especially as an accompaniment to a good beef pot roast. As a vegetable, horseradish is rich in vitamin C and folate, which are likely increased through the process of lactic acid fermentation.

fresh horseradish root

homemade horseradish recipe

By Jenny Published: July 6, 2010

  • Yield: About 1 cup homemade horseradish
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 3 to 7 days (fermentation) mins
  • Ready In: 13 mins

This homemade horseradish is strong and potent, and due to volatile compounds within the horseradish root that are released when it’s processed, it will make your eyes tear up, but push yourself through the tears and you’ll prepare a lovely, probiotic condiment that can keep for months in the fridge. Serve it with roast meats or stir it into a homemade mayonnaise.


  • about 1 cup fresh horseradish root (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1 packet starter culture for fresh vegetables (such as Caldwell’s or Body Ecology OR 1/4 cup fresh whey)
  • 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup filtered water (as needed)


  1. Combine peeled and chopped fresh horseradish root, unrefined sea salt and starter culture into the basin of a food processor.
  2. Pulse for about one minute to combine ingredients.
  3. Add two to four tablespoons filtered water to the ingredients and process for three to four minutes until a smooth paste forms, adding additional water as necessary.
  4. Take a breath, walk outside, ’cause your eyes will burn and tears will stream down your cheeks. It’s worth it though. Promise.
  5. Spoon the homemade horseradish mixture into a small jar, adding additional water to completely reach the top of the jar. Cover it loosely with a lid.
  6. Allow to ferment in a warm location in your kitchen for at least three days and up to a week, before removing to cold storage. The homemade horseradish will stay good in your fridge for several months.

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What people are saying

  1. sgeddings says

    How fortuitous, I just bought a horseradish root! I hadn’t decided what recipe to use yet. And I have some yogurt on the counter draining to make labneh right now. So I’ve got fresh whey. How perfect! This sounds much better than the recipes calling for vinegar that I’ve been reading. Oh I can’t wait to try this. Thanks Jenny! : )

  2. jmfreedly says

    ONION GOGGLES! Those were the wierdest, best looking, and most useful Christmas present I got last year 😀 Long live homemade, tear-free horseradish…

    • Jenny says

      You could use more salt, but your horseradish may be very hot. I’d recommend a starter culture of some sort in this recipe. You can even use the brine from a previous batch of fermented vegetables (also a source of lactic acid) if you’re dairy allergic or don’t have whey or access to a purchased vegetable starter like Caldwell’s.

      – Jenny

  3. sarah says

    Hey there! I am so glad I found your site so many great recipes to try!! I got some real un-waxed cucumbers the other day, and now I’ve got the fermenting bug again. But a little off topic, I was wondering if you know or have heard about people using horseradish leaves in salads or larger leaves as cooked greens..? I’ve got some growing, and wild amaranth, green onion, and scorzoneria, and that’s about all that’s grown up enough to make salads out of right now. Have put smallish horseradish leaves in salads and it was terrific, but I’m wondering if it has too much oxalic acid like some things do…? Is it something that should be fermented or atleast cooked before consumption, like radishes and cabbages?

    Thanks so much for putting all this glorious good food info here for everyone.

  4. olivia says

    do you think I could substitute the whey for a capsule of bio-kult?? I can’t get the veg starters and prefer not to use whey as on Gaps.

  5. Henrietta Lala (Granny Lala) says

    I should have read your article before I made my horseradish since I always have made it with vinegar. However, I will go get some more roots and do your fermentation method next. I eat a lot of horeradish and crave it. Your reader who finds it too hot could just calm it down with some yogurt first before serving.

  6. Rocky says

    I’m wondering if whey from non-dairy yogurt will work in the homemade horseradish recipe. I make my own yogurt from soy milk or coconut milk or rice milk. If it is active cultures that we’re looking for to do the work in fermenting, why can’t I use the starter culture for my non-dairy yogurt and bypass the whey? Or how about tempeh starter soy culture? These starters, indirectly or directly, are fermenting vegetables.

  7. Adam says

    Hi Guys, we LOVE this recipe as we love horseradish bur are never seemingly able to find one thats hot enough. Quick question , We have been fermenting for six days now and our jar smells amazing but we havent gotten any bubbles on top of our water? Should we see some? Maybe our starter was bunk. Thanks!!!

    • Oscar says

      Adam, Let the ground horseradish sit open to the air for 3 minutes or so. The volatile oils oxidizing in the air is where the heat comes from. The whey or vinegar and salt or sugar tend to stop the warming of the flavors. I’ve read that up to 1/2 hour sit time but haven’t tried it.

      I like using a champagne vinegar and sugar (no salt) Just trying the ferment recipes for the first time.

  8. Dave says

    When i buy fresh horseradish,what do i look for? i have noticed,some of the roots are greenish,& other ones are browner. Which one is best?

  9. Cindy says

    instead of draining the whey thru cheesecloth i just pour it off in the jar.. of course bits of yogurt got into it. is that ok? or should i dump it and

    start over with just whey?

  10. says

    Thank you for the recipe!
    It was the most delicious horseradish sauce i ever tasted. I made with whey, and after fermenting i mixed with sour cream, super yummy with steak.

  11. Ann says

    Yummmmmm…horseradish. I have asthma so I have to have windows open and fans going. The tearing of the eyes I can handle, the wheezing more difficult. I don’t get an asthma attack, but I definitely feel it my lungs! It’s worth every bit of the agony to make horseradish from scratch!

    • Oscar says

      Ann, I’ve been thinking of using a medical mask along with the swimming goggles. (that would be an interesting picture-lol)

  12. Rod H says

    Don’t want to make anyone envious but in my part of the world (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada) the darn stuff grows wild and I have no problem getting all I can dig.

    My father got me started on horseradish about half a century ago and I am still enjoying it.

  13. ana says


    Thank you for the recipe.
    I read a lot of recipes that say to cover the jars tightly, but you say loosely. Why is that? Shouldn’t the content be protected?

  14. Rod Hancock says

    Where can I acquire the aforementioned starter culture for fresh vegetables.

    Everyone I ask around here just gives me a blank stare.

    Vancouver Island, Canada

  15. Karin says

    I would love to make this. My daughter-in-law is allergic to whey. If I used whey to ferment, would that be a problem for her or does the fermentation process eliminate that?

    • Oscar says

      I found a raw honey ferment that sounds interesting. I’ll be trying it tomorrow.
      Use 1 teaspoon raw honey to 1/8th cup filtered water.
      Cover with cheese cloth and let stand 3 to 4 weeks.
      Seal the jars and refrigerate.

      Hope that takes the fears of allergies away.

  16. says

    Hi there. I’m brand new to the whole fermenting process. I got a hoseradish root last time I was at the co-op and I have a brisket in the freezer, so I’d really like to try making this recipe soon as well as your corned beef recipe. As far as the starter goes, I don’t have any whey right now, but I did make a ginger bug and a turmuric bug. Can I use liquid from one of those in these recipes in place of whey?

    Thanks so much!


  17. Misty says

    I haven’t tasted it yet, but it’s in the pantry fermenting. I went out on the patio with the food processor, cutting board, roots, knife, etc… No tears … Process outdoors and you can avoid the pain. Just make sure you can’t smell it. If you can move your face out of the scent, you want a gentle breezy day.

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