Whatever my reasoning might have been the first time I made this, I certainly did not expect it to be something I would enjoy quite so much. I certainly never imagined it was going to end up being something of a classic in my kitchen.
Whatever you might be thinking when you read the words “Horseradish Syrup and Candied Horseradish,” I encourage you to try this the next time you have a horseradish root in the house. You don’t even need to procure extra : this uses a part that you would ordinarily compost or throw away : the peel.
Place in a small saucepan :
1 oz horseradish peel or thinly sliced horseradish, in large, thin strips if candying
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
Heat over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Bring up to a slow simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
Allow to sit overnight or for at least a few hours, if possible.
Strain and separate peels and syrup.
Pass syrup through cheesecloth and store in refrigerator. Should last at least one month.
To make the candied horseradish :
Preheat oven to 275°.
Toss peels in more sugar to coat. Place on a cookie sheet. Do not use wax paper.
Bake peels for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake for 10 minutes more.
Allow to cool, serve as candy or use as garnish.
I first made this in a moment of whimsy. I’ve gotten fairly proficient at making homemade syrups over the past couple of years, and some of the ones that seemed most unlikely at the time I made them (knotweed flower, celery root, shiso flower) ended up being the tastiest. So whatever odd notion I had in my head that first night, I was peeling some horseradish for a roasted potato dish and I began to wonder what type of taste and use a horseradish syrup would have. I made it in a similar fashion to that detailed above, and sampled it the next day. I couldn’t believe how it tasted.
There is nothing sharp, hot or sinus-provoking about horseradish syrup. It is a sweet product with a distinctive savory flavor. It will not add heat or pungency to drinks or dishes. It will definitely add a certain je ne sais quoi. The best way to describe the flavor is to say that it tastes deeply of horseradish but not in any way you thought horseradish could taste. The candied peel tastes like caramel with a mild horseradish undertone. Rooty. It tastes rooty.
So now that you’ve braved strange new waters of taste perception with your horseradish syrup and candy what the hell do you do with them? To be fair, I’m not 100% sure yet.
I find myself nibbling in odd moments at the candy. It satisfies my interest in curiosities as well as my occasional sweet tooth. It is also visually and texturally interesting, so makes an interesting garnish for a dip with horseradish. Physically it is quite like very crisp bacon, and can be broken up and added to a dish in the same fashion–although obviously with a different flavor result. It seems to enjoy the company of gooey melted cheese.
The syrup I have mainly enjoyed medicinally, as a slowly-sipped shot when I’m feeling under the weather, especially if I have a sore throat or cough. It seems to do most of the same things that Robotussin does, meaning it masks the symptoms for a little while but isn’t quite as effective as remedies made from coltsfoot (which we will talk about in the spring). Horseradish has long been prized as a medicinal herb and vegetable, known to Egyptians, Greeks and Romans alike. Whatever heath benefits it may or may not possess, it certainly won’t do you any harm. If, like me, you enjoy the taste than it brings pleasure on its own.
Accordingly, you may use this syrup anywhere you would employ a syrup in the kitchen. Glazed carrots and potatoes, glazed pork chops, as a sweetener for a dish of greens, to make a vinaigrette for raw chicories, in sweet-savory cocktails, and so on. I’m hoping to experiment more with this syrups’ use in cooking during the upcoming year, I’ll be sure to post any interesting results. And if you’re intrepid enough to prepare this, please let me know how you find it and what interesting things you do with it.
For now though, I’m feeling a bit of a cough coming on… time for a little more medicine.