The ramolaccio may not recall much to mind, yet it is part of a larger family that is certainly well known both in the phytotherapeutic field and in terms of culinary habits, namely the radish. Compared to its more well-known cousin, the ramolaccio however has larger dimensions and its own characteristics also from the point of view of phytotherapeutic effects, which make it a resource of great benefit. In the category of ramolaccio in fact, eight different species spread between Europe and Central Asia as natural sprouts are included, so some characteristics related to the appearance of the plant may vary slightly. The leaves can have a different appearance and the flowers vary in conformation and color, ranging from white, to yellow, to purple. These are perennials, as we have seen, able to adapt to different soils and climates, and for this reason they are particularly easy to grow. The peculiarity that, as for the radish, makes the ramolaccio characteristic and easily recognizable, is the development of the root part, or rather the part that connects the traditional roots to the leaves. This part, normally of tiny dimensions in other plants, can reach a length of about thirty cm in the ramolaccio and a diameter of up to ten cm. This is where the greatest amount of active ingredients reside, which make the ramolaccio a resource for phytotherapy. The ramolaccio also contains a spicy oil which is also widespread as a seasoning and condiment for original dishes with an intense flavor, but also for herbal teas combined with other substances with similar effects, for even more effective remedies.
Active ingredients and benefits
From the point of view of the benefits related to regular intake, the ramolaccio can be a useful element in the diet as it is rich in vitamin B, which is beneficial for the body. However, the ramolaccio can also be consumed to mitigate symptoms and disorders: thanks to the substances present within the ramolaccio, it is possible to use its extracts as a diuretic, spasmolytic and analgesic. It can also prove extremely effective for kidney-related ailments, particularly renal colic. It is also used to combat sleep-related disorders, while originally it was also used as an adjuvant for fishing, as it is rich in ichthyotoxic substances that are not harmful to humans, who can consume the fish so caught without incurring risks. However, consumption must be kept under control, as taking in large doses or for prolonged periods of time can lead to excessive sleepiness.
The ramolaccio has a great adaptability that makes it easy to grow even in different climatic and soil conditions. In general, for development, the ramolaccio prefers cool climates and fertile soil, while it can suffer a high drought; it is better to provide periodic watering, while avoiding water stagnation, which is harmful to most plants. Sowing can be carried out in the summer, until late August, making sure that the different plants have enough space to grow in the ground without suffocating each other: it is therefore better to maintain a distance of at least fifteen cm between one seed and another. The fertilizer can be a valuable resource, provided that it does not contain nitrogenous elements in large quantities, which can cause the breaking of the roots. During the growth phase, periodic hoeing is necessary for the elimination of weeds and the correct transpiration of the soil, which directly affects the quality of the final product itself. Harvesting takes place when the roots are ripe, taking care not to exceed too much the moment of maximum growth to avoid that the flavor is affected or in some way damaged.
Ramolaccio: Products on the market
The ramolaccio, given its extensive use also in the culinary field, is largely marketed in its natural state, as a vegetable to be consumed to flavor different types of dishes. The seeds can be purchased to give life to their own independent cultivation, in order to always have their own reserve of ramolaccio available on occasion. However, there are also products made with ramolaccio on the market, as homeopathic remedies against problems related to renal colic or sleep disorders. Herbal teas, decoctions and infusions may contain extracts of different elements, including the ramolaccio, which in this way takes on a flavor also suitable for this type of consumption and can be combined with products with the same efficacy, for example for disorders related to insomnia. Natural ramolaccio-based analgesics can be found in the form of drops, as well as natural sleeping pills and mild tranquilizers. Homemade decoctions, infusions and herbal teas can be just as useful, with a little experience to select the ingredients to combine with this vegetable with such a distinctive flavor.
Horseradish, Ramolaccio - Raphanus sativus
The leaves are lobed or pinnatifid.
The flowers vary from white to purple or pale yellow.
The fruit is a siliqua and when ripe it breaks in correspondence with the bottlenecks between one seed and another.
Ramolaccio - garden
Raphanus sativus var. major, also marketed under the Italian name of Ramolaccio 'Münchner Bier' (Munich Beer), this root vegetable looks like a sort of large radish with a whitish root that once washed becomes shiny, ovoid above and conical below , ending in a thinner, taproot root, from which the secondary roots branch off, lost at the time of harvest, assigned to the actual absorption.
The ramolacci are traditionally considered winter roots to distinguish them, roughly, from the spring ones, radishes. In fact, this variety lends itself to being successfully cultivated even in the hottest periods of the year without the quality of the product being affected from an organoleptic point of view, taking on an acrid note.
The root must be crunchy and aromatic, if it is too watery and not very savory it is not ready yet. The time needed to start harvesting, under favorable conditions, is only two months from the moment of sowing.
The ramolaccio, Raphanus sativus var. major, is a close relative of both radishes and horseradish. It belongs to the family of Cruciferae and it is a biennial plant that in the second year of cultivation rises to seed forming long stems that bear the typical four-petalled flowers.
The leaves are deeply lobed up to 30 cm high, with strong central veining, difficult to detach from the root, although it is recommended to use a wide-toothed fork or a shovel when harvesting. In this variety it could even be composed of a leaf because the lamina is divided into real elliptical opposite leaflets plus a rhomboid-shaped terminal. The petioles have a different color according to the side considered: white, light green, veined with red.
Sowing. The 'Münchner Bier' ramolaccio is sown from February until July in order to guarantee a year-round harvest because during the winter it can remain in the ground covered by snow without deteriorating.
Medium-early plant, it has a very wide germination temperature range, between 7 and 32 ° C. Under these conditions it takes three to eight days to germinate.
One gram of seeds contains on average one hundred and twenty units and is enough for about two square meters. The seed retains the germinability for three years. The seedlings, obtained from broadcast sowing at a depth of about half a centimeter in well-worked soil, covered with specific soil for sowing, must be transplanted on rows 15-30 cm apart, and 5 cm on the row.
Ground. Like all root vegetables, it requires skeleton-free soil because stones encountered in development cause root malformations and can even be included. Soft, loose, not clayey, worked in depth, at least thirty cm, to facilitate easy development. It does not require high fertility but can close the classic four-year rotation cycles, or make the most of the residual fertility left in the soil by a strongly manured crop such as tomato and courgette. It can be sown in succession to a spring vegetable such as peas or spinach.
Irrigation. It gets wet regularly but always in moderation so as not to favor root rot. In heavy soils it is recommended to cultivate it in raised beds of at least 15 cm above the ground level.
Weeding. Weeding is the only practice required: in row cultivation it will be enough to act with a light harrowing when the plants are already well rooted between the rows, but on the row, especially in the early stages, it is necessary to operate manually and delicately.
Little used in our country, commonly used in those of central Europe, it is eaten fresh, sliced, grated, as an aperitif, to accompany cheese, cold cuts and light beers, or in mayonnaise-based sauces for summer grills.
The optimal harvest size, when the root has the right balance, is around 5 cm in diameter, with a weight of just over 100 grams, but it is possible to observe much larger roots.
Black ramolaccio uses
It can be used raw, carpaccio format, or grated in salads. But in addition to being an ally for weight loss, it is known as calming cough. That's enough:
- Cut the top horizontally and scoop out the pulp with a knife
- Fill the bowl thus obtained with sugar and cover it with the pulp, as if it were a lid
- Wrap everything in cellophane and place it in the fridge for about 8 hours
- The sugar will have thus extracted the black radish juices from the pulp and condensed in the bowl
- Veins 4 teaspoons a day will suffice to fight cough in a short time
The black ramolaccio can be preserved in vinegar or used for the preparation of the sauce al horseradish. Also excellent boiled, it can be sautéed in a pan alongside pork.
Also young leaves can be cooked, like the spinach. The squeezed seeds give rise to a pungent oil widely used in oriental cuisine.
Wild ramolaccio, how to grow it
How many times have we heard our grandmothers talk about wild ramolaccio? Although less known at the mainstream level, this sort of horseradish / wild radish in traditional cuisine it was widely used in Italy in the places where it grew spontaneously. Let's see how to grow it.
The ramolaccio is an edible plant that can be exploited in all its parts. Its leaves are often cooked and consumed together with other spontaneous herbs such as chicory and borage. Forgetting that its root it is equally perfect to be used in the kitchen, raw in salads with its more pungent flavor than that of the classic radish or cooked in chips and other types of preparations. In any case, regardless of the type of consumption, it is aedible herb that it is possible to cultivate. In most cases there is no need, however: in the areas where the ramolaccio is present it is often a weed and therefore available directly in large quantities.
Her cultivation it is possible all year round, both in pots and in the ground. It is a specimen capable of adapting to virtually any type of temperature, although in summer it is recommended to keep the plant in partial shade so as not to subject it to excessive heat. Any type of soil is good for its development: it is a rustic plant that simply needs it to be well drained and if possibly not clayey. A little bit of compost mixed in the soil allows you to get the most out of your crop by giving an extra boost to the plant.
Pests and diseases of horseradish or horseradish
It is a fairly rustic plant that is not very susceptible to fungal diseases even if it fears root rot and white mold. Among the animal parasites, however, the young leaves are attacked by aphids, by some insects such as the altica. the grillotalpa, the white fly, the nocturnal and, finally, the tender shoots are prey to snails and slugs.
Cures and treatments
To develop at its best, horseradish requires frequent cyclic maintenance practices such as:
- the elimination of weeds, to prevent them from subtracting the nutrients necessary for the enlargement of the roots
- mulching with straw when the weather conditions are adverse such as in the case of frosts and snow
- protection and control of parasites and terrestrial animals with hormonal traps, based on beer use of barriers at the base of the head made with ash, corn flour or crushed eggshells.
- moderate and more frequent watering when the climate is too hot and dry to prevent attacks of altica.
Variety of radish - Horseradish
Among the many Italian and foreign varieties, the best known are: the white of Russia, the Rosa of China, the Münchner Bier, the white of Strasbourg, the round black in winter and also the round white in summer, some with more spicy, others with a decidedly more delicate flavor.
Uses of horseradish
All parts of the horseradish are edible.
The leaves harvested when they are still tender can be eaten raw in mixed salads while the more leathery ones can be sautéed in a pan with garlic, oil and chilli, or with other vegetables to prepare excellent soups and again as a filling for savory pies.
The taproot roots similar to carrots are the most used and appreciated parts of the horseradish plant for food purposes especially for the creation of a spicy sauce, horseradish sauce, obtained from horseradish with the addition of vinegar and bread (breadcrumbs or crumb ) excellent to accompany meat, fish or vegetable dishes.
Horseradish can be eaten raw grated or sliced into julienne strips.
In some Italian regions the fresh root is grated and used to prepare a pungent and slightly acrid sauce served with boiled meats, snacks and mixed grills.
In the Lucanian cuisine the grated and boiled horseradish root is used for the preparation of a characteristic omelette famous with the name of rafanata from Matera.
Horseradish also has strong medicinal properties known since ancient times.
Horseradish has several common names that vary from country to country: ramolaccio, rorippa rusticana, German horseradish, horseradish. According to ancient German and Italian folk traditions, horseradish is the plant that makes the eyes brighter and brighter since grating it makes them weep.