Monday, January 03, 2022

History of horseradish

Horseradish originated in the southern part of Russia and the eastern part of the Ukraine. It is typically considered to be a Russian medicinal plant species, for it had not been grown in other European countries for a long while.

Early records indicate that horseradish is a native of the temperate regions of Eastern Europe and western Asia, where wild types are found growing from Finland and Poland to the regions around the Caspian Sea and the desert of Cumania (now Romania) and Turkey.

In the “De Agri Cultura‟ (circa 160 BC) written by the warrior Marcus Porcius Cato (234–149 BC) practical instructions for farmers are given. He described how to sow and cultivate “radish,” which was used for food or medicine by the Roman people.

Horseradish has been used for specific purposes in various cultures for at least the last 4000 years. Even 1,500 years before Christ, Egyptians knew about it, and Greeks used it against pains in the back and as an aphrodisiac.

During the Middle Ages (c. 1000-1300) horseradish began to be incorporated into the Passover Seder as one of the marror, or bitter herbs, to be used by the Jewish people.

In the 14th century, Germans started to grow it, and in the 16th century, the French and the British, who grew it only as a medicinal plant. Because of certain similarities in the taste of horseradish and radish itself, this medicinal plant used to be equalized.

During the Renaissance, horseradish consumption spread from Central Europe northward to Scandinavia and westward to England. By the late 1600s, horseradish was the standard accompaniment for beef and oysters among the British.

The English word horseradish apparently comes from the German word meerettich or ‘sea-radish’; meer (sea) was probably taken by the English to mean mähre, an old horse.

The first use of the term ‘horse radish’ was made by John Gerard in his famous English herbal (1597) that contains a lengthy entry with a woodcut and clear description of the plant.

The first valid published scientific name of horseradish which resulted from the generic name Armoracia was A. rusticana in 1800 by Gaertner, Meyer, and Scherbius: this binomial is used today.

Horseradish was introduced into the United States from Europe by early settlers in the 1600s and became popular in gardens in the New England states by the early 1800s.

In the mid-1800s, immigrants living in northeastern Illinois planted horseradish with the intention of selling the roots on the commercial market.
History of horseradish