Have you ever made freshly prepared horseradish? All you need is some horseradish root, vinegar, water, a little salt.....and a gas mask. Seriously, fresh horseradish preparation is NO JOKE. I bought two gnarly looking roots at a farmer's market in the Hamptons back in May, and they stayed dormant in a brown bag in the fridge's veggie drawer for almost a month before I had the time to prepare it. I roughly followed this recipe, but it was literally: peel the horseradish, chop it into manageable pieces, run it around in a food processor until it is broken up into small chips, and then stuff it into a glass jar. I think I stuffed it too tight because I don't think that the white vinegar I covered it with really suffused the root overnight, but people seemed to love it, so it was probably okay to pack it tight. Then you pour white vinegar over it (enough to cover it, and a little more), cover the jar, and leave it for 24 hours. Then drain the excess vinegar into a bowl, add a little bit of salt, and reserve it. Return the suffused horseradish to the food processor and process away until the pieces are pretty fine.
If you're familiar with horseradish, then you'll know what consistency you want. If you're not, they should be little tiny pieces that resemble bulghur wheat or coarse breadcrumbs. Return the horseradish pieces to the jar, and then stir in the reserved vinegar until you get a wet consistency. Cover the jar and refrigerate.
Back to the gas mask part: Seriously. This stuff is potent. If your eyes water when you peel an onion, be prepared to weep. But it's more than that. It's actually hard to breathe in a closed space with so much horseradish. Even two or three rooms away, people will be affected. It was summertime when I made this, hot in our small Brooklyn apartment, and I feel like I seriously endangered our health by not taking precautions. Hence the title of the post: you should really think of your kitchen as a kind of meth lab during this endeavor. Gloves and a little paper gas/infectious disease mask are really a must for this process. I think you can get one of those paper masks at a well-stocked pharmacy. I plan to make a lot more of this next year, and I will definitely plan in advance.
It's really ready to use pretty soon after you return it to the jar. And look at all the things you can do with it! About a month after I prepared it, I used it to make horseradish pickles, bloody marys, and cocktail sauce with peeled shrimp. Next up: horseradish sauce for turkey sandwiches!