Can Horseradish Go Bad?

Spoonful of Ground Horseradish

Horseradish makes such a nice addition to many sauces and marinades, but you really only can use a little bit at a time. That open jar of horseradish is just sitting in the back of your fridge. Can horseradish go bad and how long will it last?

Can Horseradish Go Bad?

Though this condiment is made with a lot of vinegar, which is a great preserving ingredient, horseradish can go bad. An unopened container of prepared horseradish will have a shelf life of about a year, depending on the preparation. After this point, while the horseradish may still be safe to consume, the quality will have declined.

Once commercially prepared horseradish has been opened, it will last for about four months when properly stored in the refrigerator. After this, the flavor will likely have degraded to the point where it’s simply not pleasant to continue consuming. Horseradish becomes bland and then bitter over time, so always taste test a bit before adding it to a recipe.

Fresh horseradish root is a different story. When properly stored whole, horseradish can remain good for several months. However, once the horseradish is cut into, it will begin to lose flavor and should be used as soon within a few days.

Spoonful of Ground Horseradish

Image used under Creative Commons from TheDeliciousLife

How to Store Fresh Horseradish Root

Fresh horseradish root has a very short season, and so storing the root long term is necessary if you’d like to use fresh horseradish year round. The easiest method to store whole horseradish is to clean and dry the root, wrap it in two layers of aluminum foil and then wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap. The root will keep for two months in the refrigerator this way. A slightly more difficult method with similar results is to place the root in a dark box, surrounded by sand, and store in your cellar, away from moisture, light or heat.

You can also preserve fresh horseradish in a jar, covered in vinegar. Make sure to tightly seal the jar, and keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. Once you use the horseradish, the vinegar also makes a great base for salad dressings or marinades!

Freezing horseradish root is the third option, though it can have mixed results. The best way to freeze horseradish root is in a vacuum sealed bag, so air exposure won’t destroy the delicate flavor compounds. Horseradish can be stored this way for several months. Thaw in the refrigerator, and use as you would fresh.

How to Store Prepared Horseradish

Unopened prepared horseradish can be stored in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator until you with to use it. Once opened the horseradish should be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealing container to retain the potency and flavor. Be sure to keep the lid tightly sealed to keep all of the flavor compounds intact.

To extend the shelf life of prepared horseradish, try freezing it. Scoop teaspoon sized dollops of horseradish on a cooking tray, leaving about an inch of space in between, and freeze until solid. Transfer the bits to a freezer bag to save for later use. This should keep the horseradish flavorful for three to four months.

Signs Horseradish Has Gone Bad

Because of the high vinegar content, preserved horseradish is unlikely to spoil. Instead, it will become bland over time, losing its pungency, and can even start to taste bitter. While it may not be unsafe to consume at this point in time, your cocktail sauce won’t taste very good. Smell and taste the horseradish before using it in a recipe to make sure the taste is right.

If the horseradish begins to show signs of mold, it has become contaminated and should be discarded.

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