Foodstuff: Celeriac Root

When I saw this knobby looking root vegetable at one of our local stores the other day, I bought it, thinking I was going to get to try a brand new foodstuff. It wasn’t until I got it home that I remembered having bought and eaten one some ten years earlier. Beyond that, I don’t recall very much about it other than my wife and I both enjoyed it…

Celeriac is fairly widely cultivated these days but originates from the Mediterranean region. Although the one I purchased consisted of only the root (properly called the hypocotyl), I have seen some pictures of the whole plant and the part that grows above ground looks remarkably like celery. The bulbous portion, in fact, is often inaccurately called ‘celery root’ by some.  I have since been informed that the roots and stems/leaves actually do come from the very same plant… see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celery

The inside of the vegetable is somewhat whitish and a cross-section slice has an appearance very like the cut surface of a large parsnip. The smell is also somewhat similar, although it doesn’t have the same sweetish notes, and is thus probably closer to a turnip as far as the aroma goes. Many people describe the taste as being like celery but I don’t agree. When you bit into a slice of the raw flesh it is quite firm, again like turnip, and the taste, I would say is like a cross between a very peppery parsnip and a slightly bitter turnip or mild radish. There is a hint of celery about it, but it is more the pungent bite of celery seed rather than the stems or leaves of the plant.

The culinary uses of the vegetable are very diverse and can be put to all the same uses as a potato with the added benefit that it can be enjoyed raw. It features in many salads, especially the well-known ‘Celeriac Remoulade’, and is cooked in soups, stews and stir-fries. Another common way it is prepared is mashed, either alone or with potato, carrots, or other vegetables, where it can be eaten alone, as a ‘side’ or as a ‘bed’ on which other items may be served.

I very much want to try cooking Celeriac but the one I purchased for this post is quite small and I want to do a salad first. I seem to recall that the first time I prepared this vegetable ten years ago, I tried a Remoulade and I think that, for my experiment with this one, I might try something along the same lines…

20 thoughts on “Foodstuff: Celeriac Root”

    1. Well…. I *did* do a salad with the one I had. Wasn’t a massive success but I will still post the results in a week or so…. apples might have been nice now that you mention it!

  1. The Dutch recipe for split pea soup that I use has cubes of this in it. I like to use it in place of mashed potatoes usually. I didn’t realize you could eat it raw, though. I’ll have to try it that way sometime.

  2. We love this and often use instead of potato. It’s expensive here in Portugal so I usually buy them and bring back with me from France. You can imagine the surpise of the customs guys when they scan the hand luggage.
    He pulled them out, looked at me quizzically? “They are expensive in Portuga”l I replied indignantly. He responded “Yes madam” as he tried to surpress a smile.

  3. Hi John,

    I was fascinated to hear how someone sees Celeriac from a new person’s perspective as this is something I love to use in cooking. Raw it is great in salads but cooked it is something else again. Somehow it takes on all the flavours and accentuates them with a touch of ‘earthiness’ if that makes any sense… I would heartedly recommend it.

    The extra joy is that you can peel and dice it then freeze then take it out and add to a dish when you want.

    As an example of how to use might I recommend Chestnut, Celeriac and Myrtle Infused Red Wine Casserole on my blog http://green-dragonette.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/in-praise-of-my-lovely-myrtle.html

  4. I took a look at your recipe and it does look lovely. Sadly, both chestnuts and myrtle are not ingredients I expect to see anytime soon. However, I see a fresh batch of Celeriac in the store and I was interested to hear that they freeze well. I’ll do that on my next shopping trip 🙂

  5. I’ve never known what I’d do with this odd root! I’ve looked at them with questions! So I really enjoyed this post…I’ll look forward to reports about your efforts to tame it! Debra

  6. Hmm… it is celery however.
    It is an indispensable vegetable in Polish kitchen, so please believe me.
    Celery and celeriac are from the same Apiaceae family. In Poland we are using
    – seler korzeniowy (Apium graveolens L. var. rapaceum (Mill.) Gaudin) – what you call celeriac and some people celery root although it should be celery tuber or bulb (probably they are form Eastern Europe ;)); and we use its leaves too.
    – seler naciowy (Apium graveolens L. var. dulce (Mill.) Pers.) – what you call celery and we are using especially for salads, but not only, or instead of lack of celeriac.
    – seler liściasty (Apium graveolens L. var. secalinum (Alef.) Mansf.) – celery that doesn’t have the tuber only leaves – those leaves are in taste and colour the same like those from celeriac (darker green than in celery) – they don’t have a tuber but calmly you can substitute it without compromising the taste.
    please compare: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celery

    It is probably some problem in translation for us, East Europeans, since ‘seler’ is celery and we don’t have other name for celeriac, only celery tuber 🙂 And we do have problem to buy it in other parts of the world where it is not common.

    Anyway, you have very informative and nice blog. I like it a lot and I like Chinese kitchen, too.

      1. You are welcome 🙂 I like it too.
        In Poland we add it to many soups as well and as an addition we are always being told not to add too much since it will take the lead and override other tastes.
        It is as well a diuretic and as such is used in the different diets 🙂

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