I think you suggested you grow horseradish? I would like to do that as well...
While speaking with my mother, though, she said she is done with the stuff. Neither love nor money could convince her to work with it. Hard to process, and akin to working with mace, she suggested.
So, if you have horseradish, and you do process it, is there a better way?I grow horseradish, process it, sell the crowns on ebay all winter at $3 apiece. I have two large beds presently and a freezer full of the stuff. I love it, as it's about the easiest thing in the world to grow. And nothing is better on a rare sirloin than a dab of ground HR. As your mother noticed, however, it's not the easiest herb in the world to work with.
For making sandwich sauces and the like, here's how I do it:
1. Dig the roots in late fall, after the tops die off but before the ground freezes. Timing affects the flavor, and dormant roots will give you the most mace for the buck. With a 4' x 8' patch you'll have buckets, maybe a wheelbarrow full of thin, straight roots. Cut off the top 4" of root and just shove it back in the ground with the crown up. That's next year's crop, and now that's out of the way.
2. Wash the remaining roots and scrub off the mud chunks with a plastic brush. You're going to find some that are too big or too small to work with (either they break or you can't get the dirt out from between the folds). Re-plant those pieces or mulch them depending on size - what you're looking for is straight pieces at least 6" long with a little body to them. Pencil-width or larger is plenty.
3. Peel the skin off of the roots with a potato peeler. This should leave you with long, straight, white roots. So far, no mace, but that's coming soon enough.
4. Dice the roots into 1/4" pieces.
5. Now comes the fun part. Find yourself an old blender, because what you're about to do is really hard on the machine.* Drop enough of the diced roots into the blender to fill up the bottom 3-4" then fill to the top of the roots with white vinegar.
6. Grind, starting coarse but going faster and finer, until the result is pretty much a paste.** This is the part where the product resembles mace. DO NOT STICK YOUR NOSE OVER THE BLENDER. If you find afterwards that the HR is not hot enough to knock your eyebrows out, you can start with less vinegar (the vinegar acts to reduce the heat). But always add enough to keep your blender blades covered. The smoke of burning appliances adds nothing good to your final product, trust me.
7. Scoop out the ground roots or dump the whole mess into a sieve and let the vinegar drain out. The more vinegar you remove, the hotter the batch will be. If you're really a glutton for punishment, re-use the vinegar with the next batch of roots (there won't be much left, however). Keep filling, grinding, and draining until you run out of roots or until smoke comes out of the blender.
I never can horseradish, if by that we mean cook it and seal it in a jar. I just grind it up one fall afternoon and freeze it.*** By the next summer it will have lost a little of its punch, unfortunately. But that's ok, because fall is coming and you'll appreciate the new batch's pungency that much more.
* I destroy one at least every other year. Farm auctions, FTW!
** You can do this part without vinegar, but you'll need a new blender about every 30 seconds. That said, the more you grind before adding the vinegar, the hotter the result will be. There's a balance to these things.
*** You can always do it in small batches throughout the year as needed. I just prefer to do it all at once.