One of spring’s traditions is gathering sap and making maple syrup. We did that a few years when we had several maple trees nearby and kids willing to gather the sap. It was a lot of work, and took a lot of time for all of us — with me doing the cooking — in the house on our electric stove!
Another springtime tradition, or chore (as such things really are) is the harvesting and preparation of horseradish. To get the best strength, it has to be done only during certain months, early spring before leaves grow, and also –, according to Wikipedia – in late fall, after the leaves die back. Old traditions say, if I remember right, any month with an “r” in it!
Roots are dug when the garden thaws, tops cut off to replant and regrow, and the roots are scrubbed, scrapped and cut up to process in a blender or food processor. Or, if neither of these is available, an old-fashioned meat grinder can be used. In the latter case, please be sure to go outside in the fresh air to work. Even with modern equipment, ventilation while working is VERY IMPORTANT. Horseradish, once ground, is very aromatic, pungent, overly so, and can make one choke and cough, and eyes water (worse than onions). I cannot be nearby while my husband prepares the horseradish as it will choke me and I’ve actually ended up sick. But I love it on a hamburger!
This is also the time to share the wealth (according to Greeks, it was worth its weight in gold) with others and give a friend a few of those tops to start his own patch of horseradish.