The one thing that every New Yorker's Passover dinner table will definitely include in the upcoming weeks is a jar of freshly-made, ground horseradish by iconic downtown institution The Pickle Guys.
Although the eatery churns out the spicy treat all year round, it makes a special version of the stuff about two weeks before Passover every year. Unlike the traditional iteration of the food, the kosher for Passover jars are spicier and less coarse.
Ground daily in a tent right outside the Grand Street shop, the horseradish comes in two "flavors:" white and red. The preparation starts off the same way for either order:
"We purchase about 5,000 pounds of horseradish every year for the Passover orders," says The Pickle Guys owner Alan Kaufman. "We open the bags, cut the tops off and peel the plants like you would a carrot. We are then left with the white root, which we wash and then take to our grinder. We grind it and it comes out like grated cheese."
If making white horseradish, the staff then immerses the ground plant in kosher for Passover apple cider vinegar and salt water. The red horseradish recipe, on the other hand, requires beets, which the pros wash, slice "like potato chips," dip in salt water and let sit there for about five weeks before adding the ground horseradish to the concoction.
Each pint-sized jar costs $14—and it is obviously worth every penny given the expertise and care with which each product is prepared.
Customers who strictly consume certified kosher for Passover treats will be delighted to know that the year-round certification that The Pickle Guys boast is valid throughout the holiday as well. Kaufman is quick to note that the grinder used to prepare the Passover horseradish is only utilized for the specific product, as are all the utensils and buckets needed throughout production.
In addition to being delicious and unique to New York, The Pickle Guys' horseradish is renowned given the gas mask that the staff dons while preparing it.
"We use the gas mask because you're there all day and your eyes are burning!," explains Kaufman before announcing that, after four decades making the treat, he doesn't find the need to wear the mask anymore and just puts up with the tears that the grinding causes.
Another cute detail worth mentioning: the stuffed Yoda puppet ("not the baby Yoda!," Kaufman is adamant to note) that sits by the grinder all day. Make sure to snap a picture alongside it before picking up your order.
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