Celeriac, also known as root-celery, is a closely related variety of common leaf celery. It is grown for its delicious, knobby underground root. Root celery is a popular winter-season root vegetable employed as mashed in dishes, in soups, and stews, especially in the countryside of Eastern and North European regions.
Botanically, it belongs to the Carrot or Apiaceae family, in the genus; Apium. Scientific name: Apium graveolens var. rapaceum.
Celeriac is a biennial (but can grow perennially) and has similar growth habit and appearance as that of leaf celery. It demands full sun and enough moisture in the soil to flourish. The unique feature, however, is that it develops turnip-like large, gray, globular tuber just underneath the ground surface. Its celery-like leaves feature long, hollow petioles which, however, rarely used in the recipes unlike as in leaf celery.
Celeriac root features rough, knobby outer surface covered with tiny rootlets. Inside, its smooth white flesh has celery-like flavor. It measures about 3-4 inches in diameter and weighs about 1-2 pound.
Health benefits of Celeriac
Celeriac is very low in calories. 100 g root holds just 42 calories, quite higher than that of leaf celery. Its smooth flesh has awesome health benefiting plant-nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber.
As that in carrot and other members of Apiaceae family vegetables, celeriac too contains many poly-acetylene anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol.
Several research studies from scientists at the University of Newcastle at Tyne found that these compounds possess anti-cancer properties and, thereby, may offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Celeriac is a splendid source of vitamin-K. 100 g root provides about 41 µg or 34% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-K improves bone mineralization by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bones. Research studies suggest that it also has an established role in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
The root is an excellent source of some of the essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper, and manganese. Phosphorus is required for cell metabolism, maintaining blood buffer system, bone, and teeth formation. Copper helps restore immunity, prevents anemia, and essential for bone metabolism.
Further, it contains some of the valuable B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. Fresh root also provides moderate amounts of vitamin C (8 mg/100 g).
Selection and storage
If grown in the backyard, celeriac will be ready for harvest by August but can be available so until December. In the stores, they can be readily available and in some markets from September to April.
Buy medium-size tubers measuring about 3-4 inches in diameter. Look for smooth and even surface tubers, as they are easy to peel and possess subtle flavor. Avoid large, over-matured roots and those with surface cracks.
Once at home, store celeriac as you would do in case of turnips and carrots. It has good keeping quality and can store well for 3-4 months if kept between 0°C and 5°C set at a high relative humidity and not allowed to become dry in between. Keep it in a plastic bag inside the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Do not store celeriac inside the deep freezer.
Preparation and serving methods
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.
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.