• Karen Seiger

Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish: A Strong Easter Tradition in All Senses

If there is one thing I have learned about Polish American culture from my husband James and his family over the years, it is the important relationship between food and holidays. Easter is a biggie.

My inlaws’ family traditions include Święconka, or Easter meal. It is a lunch of Polish sausage, ham, boiled eggs, rye bread and a butter lamb. (I love butter lambs.) If you were lucky, you’d get to shop for your entire meal at Buffalo’s Broadway Market, which springs wonderfully to life during Easter and Christmas.

The Easter meal also includes enough fresh horesradish to clear all the sinuses in the greater metropolitan area.

Like many Polish American families in Buffalo used to do, and as many still do today, James’s family would take a basket filled with the makings for their Easter meal to church to be blessed by their parish priest. After mass, the feasting would begin at home.

I have not developed the same affection for horseradish as I have for butter lambs. But I do have great respect for it. James and his siblings slather it on their rye bread at Easter and on most of their sandwiches throughout the year. It’s a nostalgic flavor for them. I suppose the sweet sting of the horseradish fumes assaulting their nasal passages reminds them of their childhoods back in Buffalo.

So you can imagine James’ delight when we stopped to sample the extremely fresh, homemade horseradish from Holy Schmitt’s at the Union Square Greenmarket.

Find Holy Schmitt’s in Greenmarkets in Manhattan and Brooklyn


Holy Schmitt’s is a line of regular and flavored horseradish from Schmitt’s Farm on the eastern end of Long Island. Their collection includes beet, cranberry, hot pepper (!), mustard, BBQ and cocktail horseradish. I can tell you that it is strong, pungent and mouthwatering to James and eyewatering to me.

If you’ve never seen an actual horseradish, they are quite captivating. The beige root, related to mustard, wasabi, broccoli and cabbage, is the part we generally eat. The leaves are edible too, but it’s not commonly done for some reason. It doesn’t smell too strongly until it is grated or crushed and mixed with vinegar.

We have our jars of regular and bright pink beet horseradish from Holy Schmitt’s in our fridge. They are already open, but there is enough for a few slices of rye bread on Easter Sunday.

Find Holy Schmitt’s at the Greemarkets in Union Square, Grand Army Plaza, TriBeCa, McCarren Park and Inwood. You can also find their horseradish and fresh farm produce at Schmitts Farm Stand on Sound, now open for the season on Long Island.

Follow Holy Schmitt’s on Facebook too!

This is what fresh horseradish roots look like


Varieties of Holy Schmitt’s H


Pretty Beet Horseradish from Holy Schmitt’s


 ~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City

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© 2020 by Karen Seiger

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