What is Celeriac?
Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) is a deciduous, herbaceous biennial, erect vegetable sized 1 m high and 0.5 m wide grown for its delicious, knotted underground root.Roots are usually large round brown 7–12 cm across. Celeriac has pinnate leaves with rhombic leaflets and hollow stalks. Flowers are creamy white, 2-3 mm in diameter and are produced in dense compound umbels. Seeds are broad ovoid to globose, 1.5–2 mm long and wide.
Celeriac is high in dietary fiber and protein as well as many crucial vitamins and minerals. Celeriac has high contents of vitamins C and K, and various B vitamins such as, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and vitamin B6. It is rich with calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
History Of Celeriac
Greet celeriac, the unsung frog prince of winter vegetables. Pare off its warty exterior and you’ll uncover the royal vegetable within: a perfect, ivory-fleshed, winter alternative to potatoes and other starches. It is surprising that a vegetable that is so delicious, wonderfully hearty and eminently storable — and makes such a boldly verdant show in the garden — is practically unrecognized in the try-anything United States.
In Europe, however, celeriac is a historic favorite. The vegetable’s most classic employment is in the cold French salad celerie remoulade, in which the root is peeled, grated, “cooked” in lemon juice (or blanched briefly in acidulated water) to lose a bit of its rawness, then dressed with a mustardy mayonnaise.
Celeriac is cousin to anise, carrots, parsley and parsnips, some of which are bred for their edible stalks and tops, others for their edible roots. Celeriac is a celery variety refined over time to produce an increasingly large, solid, globular root just below the soil surface. Also known as celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery, celeriac developed from the same wild species as did stalk celery. It had medicinal and religious uses in many early civilizations, including those of Egypt, Greece and Italy.
While what the early Greeks called selinon is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey in 800 B.C., celeriac did not become an important vegetable until the Middle Ages. It was first recorded as a food plant in France in 1623, and was commonly cultivated in most of Europe by the end of the 17th century. Admittedly, celeriac does have a couple of slight drawbacks. If you are going to grow it, it is a rather long-season plant, clocking in at about 112 days from seeding. It’s also rather odd-looking.
Aboveground is a gorgeously symmetrical crown of green, celery-like growth radiating from the central knob to about 12 inches. However, pull up this pretty green crown and what you unearth looks like a troll’s orb of warts and roots.
Do not be dissuaded. When peeled, celery root’s creamy white flesh resembles that of a turnip and tastes like a subtle blend of celery and parsley. Additionally, half a cup contains only 30 calories, no fat and provides an excellent source of dietary fiber.
This time of year, celeriac can be a perfect non-starch substitute for potatoes in a warming meal, and can be prepared in a similar way. Mashed, shaped into batons and boiled, or even French fried, celery root can provide a winning accompaniment to a fresh green vegetable or salad and anything roasted or grilled.
I find a paring knife, rather than a peeler, works best for peeling the root. Shave downward with the blade in broad strokes to remove the thick skin. Drop the peeled bits into a bowl of acidulated water (water into which some lemon juice has been squeezed) immediately after cutting to prevent discoloration. Even if you are planning to fry or bake the celeriac later, parboiling it first for 5 or 10 minutes in acidulated water will soften its raw edge. When peeled and cooked, this ugly duckling vegetable will become a true culinary swan.
How it Looks
Unfortunately labeled by many a very ugly vegetable, when pulled out the ground, the root itself is bumpy and brown.However, when peeled, the root beneath is revealed to be smooth and white.
How It Tastes
Celeriac has a mild celery and parsley taste and can be eaten raw and cooked.
How It’s Used
The white interior is then chopped and boiled, sautéed or grated. One extremely popular way celeriac is used, particularly for people who are watching their calorie or carbohydrate intake, is to substitute celery root for potatoes. Serving the root mashed with a small amount of butter or cream. Celery root only has 60 calories per cup. You can also use the green stalks that grow out of the top of the root to flavor soup stocks and stews. However, be aware the green stalks are fibrous, hollow and not as pleasing to the palate as American celery.
If you cannot find celeriac in the market for recipes, you may substitute American celery or a “bouquet garni” (tied herbs) of celery leaves and parsley.
Celeriac in German Cuisine
Celeriac is popular in Germany cuisine, much more popular than in the United States. In Germany, celery root is used in everything from soups to schnitzels. The root can be roasted, boiled, steamed, creamed and even grated raw over salads. The stalks of the celery root, chopped very small, can be substituted in many recipes calling for celery. Some American recipes calling for fresh celery (Ants on a Log, Waldorf Salad) will not work as well with celeriac.
Sellerie – “Zell-air-ee”
Also Known As
celery root, knob celery, turnip-rooted celery, Sellerie
Celeriac vs. celery
While celery is grown for its edible leaves and stalks, celeriac is grown for its roots. Celeriac is sometimes called celery root, but it is not the root of celery stalks.
Other names for celeriac are knob celery and turnip-rooted celery, and it is the same family as carrots and related to celery, parsley, and parsnips.
Celeriac Nutrition Value
What is important about celery root nutrition facts? A cup of cooked celery root contains 9.1 grams of carbohydrates, 1.8 grams of fiber, and 1.5 grams of protein, along with some fat. For a micronutrient perspective, celery root is loaded with vitamin K that amounts for 34% of the recommended daily amount required. Celery root is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and copper. It contains amounts of vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, folate, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
The following is a comprehensive celeriac nutrition chart with information for one cup of cooked pieces of celery root, or 155 grams of this root vegetable.
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 42
- Total Fat 0.3 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 100 mg – 4% RDA
- Potassium 300 mg – 8% RDA
- Total Carbohydrate 9 g – 3% RDA
- Dietary fiber 1.8 g – 7% RDA
- Sugar 1.6 g
- Protein 1.5 g – 3% RDA
- Vitamin C 13% RDA
- Calcium 4% RDA
- Iron 3% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 10% RDA
- Magnesium 5% RDA
Raw Celery Root Nutrition
Provided you slice it thinly to avoid its taste overpowering you, celery root is suitable to eat raw in dishes such as salads. One cup of the raw vegetable has 66 calories, 2.3 grams of protein, 0.5 gram of fat, 14.4 grams of carbohydrates and 2.8 grams of total dietary fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database. Its fiber content is especially valuable, as adults should get around 30 grams of fiber in their daily diet.
Cooked Celery Root Nutrition
A simple way to cook celery root is to boil it and then add it to soups and sauces or even dice it into mashed potatoes. Boiling the vegetable changes its nutritional value slightly. One cup of boiled celery root has 42 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 0.3 gram of fat, 9.1 grams of carbohydrates and 1.9 grams of total dietary fiber, according to the USDA.
Minerals and Vitamins
The minerals and vitamins in raw vs. cooked celery root differ slightly. In its raw form, the vegetable provides 67 milligrams of calcium, 468 milligrams of potassium and 156 milligrams of sodium per cup. The same amount has 12.5 milligrams of vitamin C. When cooked, 1 cup has 40 milligrams of calcium, 268 milligrams of potassium, 95 milligrams of sodium and 5.6 milligrams of vitamin C.
Skip the Salt When Boiling
Although you might be tempted to do so for flavor, avoid adding salt to the water when boiling the vegetable. The USDA notes that 1 cup of boiled, salted celery root has 460 milligrams of sodium. This amount is high, given that your daily sodium intake should be under 1,500 milligrams. If your sodium intake is consistently high, you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure.
Amazing Health Benefits of Celeriac
1. Aids in Weight Loss
Celeriac is low in calories and is nutritionally dense. They are also packed with dietary fiber which gives a fuller feeling for longer thereby preventing snacking between meals.
2. Strengthens Bones
Celeriac contains calcium which is essential for bone strengthen. vitamin K acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, preventing bone loss and osteoporosis. Adequate amount of vitamin K is essential to activate the Gal-protein osteocalcin, which binds firmly to bone
minerals to make robust bones. With insufficient vitamin K, bones cannot hold on to vital calcium that results to osteoporosis.
Celeriac also contains phosphorus which is essential for maintaining bone strength and structure. Manganese helps with the formation of bone regulatory hormones and enzymes involved in bone metabolism, phosphors helps form bone mineral density which avoids bone fractures, breaks and osteoporosis.
3. Brain Health
Vitamin K is essential for the production of sphingolipids, the myelin sheath around nerves. Myelin sheaths are vital for the proper conduction of nerve cells. Research studies suggest that it also has established a role in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
Vitamin B6 also known as Pyridoxine which helps in the manufacture of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that allow brain and nerve cells to communicate with one another, confirming that metabolic processes such as fat and protein metabolism run effortlessly, and is significant for immune system function in older persons. It can also help deal with conditions, like nerve compression injuries (like carpal tunnel syndrome), some cases of depression.
4. Reduces Cancer Risk
Celeriac has many antioxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxadiol, and methyl-falcarindiol. Antioxidants find and eliminate cell-damaging free radicals that can turn healthy cells into cancer cells.
Nutrition Health Benefits of Celeriac
5. Regulates Blood Pressure
Celeriac has a very high content of potassium and a low content of sodium, which may help reduce the risk for hypertension. Potassium acts as a vasodilator and helps reduce stress on the blood vessels.
6. Heart Health
Celeriac consists of vitamin K, numerous antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, Selenium Lutein and Zeaxanthin, and small quantities of omega-3 fatty acids. All these vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3s work together to keep arteries clear of hazardous plague buildup, to lower cholesterol levels, to combat high blood pressure, to increase blood flow and to sustain healthy, strong blood vessels. Such important benefits decrease the chance of heart attack as well as other cardiovascular problems.
7. Wound Healing
Celeriac contain vitamin C which is essential for synthesis of collagen and the development of new blood vessels to substitute damaged tissue. This element also has a strong autoxidizing effect that boosts the immune system and protects against wound infection. Inflammatory responses frequently increase free radicals at the site of injury and the presence of vitamin C might limit free radical damage, free radicals may create difficulty in the wound healing process.
Vitamin also helps the body absorb iron which works to supply the wound bed with oxygen and energy for more efficient cellular development.
8. Aids in Digestion
Celeriac has both soluble and insoluble fiber which are essential for digestion. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut. It is a respected source of nutrients for the beneficial digestive bacteria, and may also decrease spikes in blood sugar and control cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to fecal matter and may help food and waste pass through the gut. Consuming insoluble fiber has also been related with a decreased risk of diabetes.
9. Skin Care
Celeriac consists of important pro Vitamin B5 which is also called Pantothenic acid which acts as moisturizer and helps to keep skin healthy, soft and smooth. It also acts as anti-inflammatories simply by encouraging your skin’s healing processes. It is very hydrating and helps to keep skin moist simply by absorbing moisture from air. It also contains Vitamin C which stimulates collagen formation which helps with the skin elasticity thereby reducing the chances of wrinkles.
10. Reduces inflammation and arthritis
Celeriac is a high source of Copper and potassium, two minerals which are significant in preventing the arthritis. Copper has anti-inflammatory capabilities which help to relieve pain and rigorousness related with arthritis. It also has the capability to help with muscular strength, to reduce joint pain, and to repair connective tissue. Potassium is an important mineral and electrolyte responsible for the function of all cells, tissues and organs in your body. It is crucial in both skeletal and smooth muscle contractions.
How Do You Cook Celeriac?
Celeriac can be prepared in a variety of ways. You can add it to salads, soup or mash. This vegetable can even be prepared as chips. But before knowing how to cook celeriac, you should first learn how to clean it properly. This vegetable can be difficult to clean and peel because of its uneven and bumpy surface.
To clean the celeriac root, be sure that you use a soft vegetable brush to get rid of any dirt that may be left on the peel.10 Afterwards, you will want to do the following to successfully peel celeriac without cutting off too much of its flesh:11
- Place the celeriac on a clean work surface. Remove the base and the top of the vegetable.
- Carefully cut down the sides, close to the skin. Be sure you’re not wasting too much flesh left on the skin.
- When the skin is completely removed, chop or slice the flesh, depending on your preference. To avoid discoloration, soak the vegetable pieces in cold water and a few lemon slices.
- People say that celeriac has a much stronger and more condensed flavor than celery. Because of this, it is usually eaten together with other strongly flavored ingredients, to neutralize it.
There are endless ways to cook celeriac. But while it’s usually cooked and prepared as an ingredient in main courses, it can also be eaten raw and on its own.12 Celeriac is a good alternative for potatoes as well, and may be eaten as either a mash or a puree.
- 3 large celery roots, peeled
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 cups vegetable oil
- Juice 1/2 lemon into a big pot of water and put it on to boil.
- Julienne the peeled roots by using a mandoline (a device with adjustable blades) on the French-fry setting. If you don’t have a mandoline, peel the roots, cut them into 1/4-inch slices, then into 1/4-inch sticks, and put them in a bowl of acidulated water.
- Add celeriac to the pot of boiling water and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain and dry well.
- In the same pot or a deep-fryer, heat the vegetable oil until smoking (about 350 degrees) and start deep frying in batches until golden. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Reheat in the oven before serving.
Mashed Celeriac with Truffle Oil and Deep-Fried Apple Bits
- 3 large celery roots, peeled and cubed
- 2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 pint light cream
- 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons truffle oil (optional if unavailable)
- 2 crisp apples, cored, peeled and diced fine
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Boil cubed celery root and potato in a large covered pot until soft. Drain thoroughly and return to pot. Add cream, butter, salt and truffle oil, and mash and whip until integrated and smooth.
- Dredge the diced apple in the flour. Add 1/2 cup of oil to a saute pan and heat over high heat until smoking. Add apple bits and “flash” fry (quickly over high heat) until crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
- To serve, reheat the mashed celeriac until warmed through, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle the apple bits over the top.
Boiled Celeriac with Butter and Herbs
- 3 large celery roots, peeled
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus extra for acidulating water
- 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, chives, tarragon, mint, lemon balm or basil (you can pick one or use two in a savory combination)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fill large bowl with water and add lemon juice. Add celery roots as they are peeled.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cut peeled celery roots into three or four thick slices, then cut each slice into three or four fat sticks, returning them to their bowl of acidulated water after each step.
- Shape the sticks into “batons” by shaving off the square “corners” and pointing the ends (like sharpening a fat pencil) with a paring knife.
- Place the batons in the boiling water. Add juice of half a lemon. Bring water back to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until batons are soft but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot.
- Add butter, herbs of choice, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat through before serving.
Selection And Storage Of Celeriac
Today, in North America, the type of celery most grown and eaten is called “pascal celery,” while in Europe “celeriac” celery is more popular. Celery is considered a long-season crop and somewhat hard to grow, since it needs constant moisture and can’t withstand heat very well. It grows in cool, moist climates best and can be found most times of the year, especially during the fall through winter months.
Knowing that celery is one of the most chemical-sprayed vegetables there is, always look for organic celery whenever possible to get the most benefits of celery without consuming toxins and chemicals. The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” shows that celery is usually sprayed with multiple types of pesticides.
When picking out celery, make sure the stalks seem firm and aren’t too limber. If the stalks have their leaves attached still, look for brightly colored leaves that are not wilting.
Don’t wash celery right away after bringing it home because this can cause it go bad quicker. Store dry celery, wrapped in a paper towel if you’d like, inside the refrigerator for about five to seven days at the most. After this time, celery tends to get limp, and its nutrient content starts to decrease. It’s also not recommended to freeze celery because it easily wilts and will become mushy once defrosting it.
To clean and cut celery, discard the base that’s usually firm and white. You can save the leaves and use these in recipes, such as soups, stews or a sauté. Celery leaves are a good source of vitamins and minerals just like the stalks, so don’t waste them! Rinse the celery stalks and leaves well to remove any dirt and then cut the stalks into pieces.
Preparation And Serving Methods Of Celeriac
To prepare, just scrub and wash the root in cold running water to remove off surface sand and soil. Mop dry using an absorbent cloth. Trim off at top and base. Then cut the entire tuber into quarters or cubes. Scrape off its outer skin using a thick knife.
Just as in potatoes,, it turns brown soon after exposure to air. Simply rub a lemon or orange slice over the cut surface. Chop its white flesh into cubes, slices as you may desire before adding into recipes. Boiled celeriac can be mashed and added to vegetables.
Here are some serving tips:
- Celeriac is employed as you use other root vegetables. It imparts delicate celery flavor to the recipes.
- It can be used raw in salads, coleslaw, French celeriac remoulade, as a garnish (grated).
- Boiled, and mashed, celeriac makes a delicious mix with mashed potatoes. It can then be served with fish, meat, and with other root vegetables like potato, beets, kohlrabi, turnip, carrots…etc.
- Root celery can also be used in soups, sauce, pie, casseroles.
1. How to Grow Celeriac
Celeriac is a cool-season biennial grown as an annual. It is similar in growing habit and requirements as celery. Celeriac is best when it comes to harvest in cool weather. It is best started indoors and later transplanted into the garden. Sow seed indoors as early as 10 weeks before the average last frost date in spring. Celeriac requires 90 to 120 days to reach harvest.
Most importantly when you first learn how to grow celeriac is that it needs to be sown under cover in March. The seedlings are then planted out after the the last frosts in late May / early June. The young plants are started off early and spend a relatively long time indoors so we’ve a little bit of work to do to get them going. Broadcast sow (Sprinkle) the seeds over a seed tray or pot containing a fine seed compost. Don’t cover the seeds as they need light to germinate. You need to place the pot or tray in a warm place, a south facing windowsill is ideal or in a propagator if you have one.
Celeriac may take 2 or 3 weeks to germinate so don’t worry if they seem to be taking a bit long! Keep the compost moist and don’t let it dry out. You will need to prick the seedlings out into modular trays about 2 weeks after germination.
To do this you need to gently loosen the roots beneath the seedling with a suitable stick. (We used a pen) and lift it gently by the leaves.
Fill a 6 cell modular tray with a good multipurpose compost and make a hole in the cells you want to plant about the size of the seedling root.
Place the seedling root in the prepared hole and carefully fill the compost in around the root. Plant 1 seedling per individual cell.
We have used lettuce seedlings in the photos but the principle is the same. It is important the seedlings are pricked out at an early stage to avoid root disturbance which can lead to bolting later on. It is important to prick out the seedlings at an early stage otherwise there will be too much root disturbance which can lead to bolting at a later stage.
2. Hardening Off
Celeriac plants should be moved to the garden when about 10cm tall and hardened off before planting in their final positions. Plants that have been raised indoors will need to get used to the outdoor temperature and conditions before they can be planted outside, this will take about a week to 10 days depending on the weather.
The best way is to use a cloche or mini greenhouse. You can leave the cloche off the plants on dry frost free days and replace at night. Gradually increase the time with the cloche removed until the end of the week when you leave it off day and night. If the weather is mild you may not need the cloche, just move the plants outside for longer periods each day.
If you have started your seeds on a windowsill you will need to leave them in an unheated room for a day or two before moving outside to the cloche.
3. Planting Out
This plant likes moist soil conditions and plenty of compost to thrive. Will benefit from regular watering if the Summer is dry. Roots will grow larger in wet Summers. Celeriac should P be planted out at a spacing of 35cm between plants and 35 cm between rows.
Water your plants well an hour before planting. To plant your seedling make a hole in the soil the approximate size of the seedling ‘plug’. You need to push the soil in around the roots firmly with your fingers to get good contact with the soil. Don’t firm down on the top of the soil as this can compact it and prevent moisture getting down to the plants roots.Water the plants after planting but do not soak them. You are better to transplant on a dull day or in the evening to prevent the plants wilting on a hot, dry day.
Young plants will need to be protected from slugs but otherwise it’s generally a healthy and resistant vegetable.
4. Celeriac Crop Care
Celeriac is a shallow rooted plant so make sure you water in dry spells. Be careful when hoeing around the plant as the shallow roots are easily damaged. It is important to keep the plants weed free so don’t use that as an excuse! The plants will also benefit from a top dressing of seaweed / poultry manure pellets during the summer. Remove the outer leaves to expose the crown and encourage the bulb to develop.
Celeriac can be harvested from October onwards. You can store them in boxes of sand in a frost free shed or garage.
In milder areas they can be left in the ground and lifted as required unless you have a slug problem in which case you should lift them all.A knife or spade is handy as Celeriac has tight masses of fleshy roots which will need to be severed as you gently pull the plant up. If you are harvesting to store don’t clean off too much as similar to carrots a thin layer of soil will help prevent roots drying out.
Negative Effects Of Celeriac
Although an allergy isn’t very common, celery is among a small group of foods that is associated with causing severe allergic reactions in some cases, similar to a peanut allergy. When someone who is allergic to celery is exposed to its oils, exposure can cause potentially fatal side effects. Celery seeds contain the highest levels of allergen content, which is not destroyed during cooking, so celery should be completely avoided by anyone who has a known food allergy.
Celeriac contains several furanocoumarin compounds like psoralen, bergapten, xanthotoxin and isopimpinellin which may cause the skin burn (photo-toxicity) in some sensitive individuals. Moreover, like celery, it should be avoided in large quantities in pregnant women. Likewise, people on diuretic medications and anti-coagulant medications should use this root sparingly.
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