veg of the month: celeriac

It’s not the prettiest vegetable in the bunch but it sure is tasty! Celeriac has the flavour of celery and the texture of potatoes, making a great way to add flavour to your mashed potatoes or to soups, writes cafe manager Sarah. 

Vegetable Origins & Varieties  

Celeriac: Apium graveolens var. rapaceum.  Family: Umbelliferae.

This really is a delicious vegetable, a swollen-stemmed relative of celery that surprisingly hasn’t really caught on in this country although it’s very popular on the continent. Its introducer to this country was by a Stephen Switzer (1682–1745) who was an English garden designer; writer on garden subjects and an early exponent of the English landscape garden. He brought the first seeds from Alexandria writing about them in his book ‘A compendious method for the raising of celeriac….and other foreign kitchen-vegetables’.

It’s sometimes called turnip-rooted celery but in spite of its shape it’s a true celery – we eat the swollen root rather than the stem as in normal celery (although the leaves are also edible).

Growing tips & Harvesting

Celeriac is a Mediterranean plant so needs as much sun as possible where it grows. Seeds are sown as early as February (it germinates at 18 degrees C - like tomatoes) the seedlings will need hardening off before planting them outside in May.

If you want to grow large celeriac then the secret is a long growing season and ample amounts of water so that they never become dry in summer. Aim for a rich soil with plenty of organic matter that will hold moisture.

Celeriac often makes extra side shoots but to maintain strong growth keep to the one central growing point – cut all other shoots away (and eat them!).

The plants are hardier than celery and the harvested root will last well through the winter if stored in a cool place in sand, or protected with straw to keep any frost away.

Varieties: ‘Globus’, ‘Marble Ball’ and ‘Iram’ (which remains white after cooking)

Storing & Preparation

As a root vegetable, celeriac will last a long time as long as it is kept cool. Here at the Skip Garden Kitchen, we keep ours in our cool store as the dark and cool conditions are perfect for the root. At home, a celeriac wrapped up and stored in the fridge will keep for a couple of weeks - longer if it is freshly harvested.

To prepare, you will need to peel off all of the hairy brown skin, you can be quite rough with it when doing so! Without removing it all, parts of your celeriac will be tough and fibrous.

Our favourite Recipes

Celeriac Remoulade

This dish is a great starter or lunch idea and we’ve served a version of it - using parsnips instead of celeriac - a few times in the Skip Garden Kitchen. Serve with some slices of toasted sourdough and dressed leaves.

You will need:

1 medium-sized celeriac

Juice from half a lemon

4 tbsp mayonnaise (you could try making your own

2 tbsp smooth dijon mustard

2 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Peel and then ‘julienne’ the celeriac (the slices should be roughly the size of a matchstick). Toss the slices immediately into the lemon juice in order to prevent them from browning.

In a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, cream or crème fraîche, and chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and then fold into the celeriac.

Set aside for 30 minutes and it is then ready to serve.

 

Celeriac soup

As the nights draw in, this is a great autumn/winter warmer that uses other seasonal produce to make a hearty dish. A nutty pesto is a great accompaniment to the soup - drizzle a little over the top just before serving.

You will need:

50g Butter
1 Celeriac, peeled and cubed
1 Potato, peeled and cubed
1 Leek, trimmed, washed and roughly sliced
1 Onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Garlic clove, sliced
1 litre vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the vegetables and leave for about 10 minutes to gently sweat until they are starting to soften.

Add the stock and bring to a boil, then turn down and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes until the celeriac has become tender.

Use a hand blender to blitz up until smooth and return to the pan to reheat. Season to taste.

Final words

I really love how flexible celeriac is. As a root vegetable, it can be roasted, boiled or even eaten raw (as with our remoulade recipe). If you do try making the remoulade, make sure you let us know how you get on.