Notes Horseradish

The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Numbers 9:11 (KJV)

Although most books on medicinal plants of the Bible, including my own, do not mention the horseradish, it seems to be the most important passover herb and is mentioned in the Torah. Under several orthographic variants (marror, maror, mohror, moror, morror), the Torah mentions eating the morror (marror, maror, moror), or the bitter herb. Many of my Jewish friends consider it the bitter herb mentioned in Numbers 9:10-11 (Helen Metzman; Wayne Silverman, separate personal communications, 2007).

I find it a great spice, especially with ketchupy seafood cocktail sauces like I enjoyed last night with shrimp cocktail. I was taken aback when the first title crossing my desk as I settled back into compiling today was "Deodorization of Swine Manure using Minced Horseradish Roots and Peroxides." Pennsylvania scientists Govere et al. (2005) removed all offensive phenolics without recurrence for 72 hours, but human panels considered the odor reduced 50% in intensity, dare I call it IC50 = 1 part horseradish to 10 parts manure + calcium peroxide (26 or 34 mM) + hydrogen peroxide (34, 52, or 68 mM). The authors conclude that using horseradish "as enzyme carriers and peroxides as electron acceptors emerges as an effective approach to phenolic (p-cresol- p-ethylphe-nol) and phenol odor control in animal manure," skillfully avoiding the issue of the nonphenolic contributors (volatile fatty acid-like n-butyric, n-caproic, isobutyric, isocapoic, isovaleric, propionic, and n-valeric acids) and indoles (indole, scatole). "More work is required to find ways to increase the removal of indolic odorants and volatile fatty acids." Govere et al. (2005)

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