Silver Spring Foods Zing Masters use science to make horseradish


EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) – Huntsinger Farms near Eau Claire grows and produces the most horseradish in the world, processing and selling it through its Silver Spring Foods product line.

Helping create Sliver Spring’s horseradish products are its Zing Masters. These scientists do experiments helping ensure each recipe has the right amount of “zing.”

“We’ve done a lot of shelf life studies studying the change in perception and heat level over time throughout the self life of the products. We’ve done some threshold testing to better understand how the differences in heat level are perceived by different people,” Zing Master Sarah Kolk said.

Silver Spring Quality Manager Jeff Stanley said since everyone has their own reaction to different types of horseradish, it’s the Zing Masters job to help decide what works best in its recipes.

“When you talk about horseradish, there’s a sensory science to it,” he said. “So the feeling you get when you eat it in your nose, in your mouth, on your tongue and then the taste of it as well can vary from one crop to another. And so it’s important that we can identify those different flavor compounds just like we do for wine, coffee.”

“We can use different processing techniques including size of the grind, different additions of ingredients to control how much of the flavor compound is produced. It’s actually a hydrolysis product that’s created upon grinding,” Kolk said.

Using these processes, they created the Zing Factor Index to make it easier for people to get the level of “zing” they desire.

“The index allows us to know exactly what level of heat,” Stanley said. “So you can get anything from a Z-1, which is a low of heat, which gives you that horseradish flavor but without that intense zing heat that you get, versus a Z-5. So if you want something with a lot of heat in it that’ll really bring that zing and open you up, that’ll be your Z-5.”

The Zing Masters will be at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in at Huntsinger Farms through Thursday. People can meet them and learn more about what they do.

Silver Spring horseradish is available at local grocery stores.

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