It may have a knobby, gnarled skin but like they always say: "don't judge a vegetable by its surface". Once you cut through the bark-like peel, you will be surprised that a vegetable this delicious, wonderfully hearty and eminently storable is not at the top of everyone's grocery list. In fact, we have reason to believe not everyone has tried celeriac before. Here are 8 things you might not know about celeriac.
- Celeriac is one of the oldest root vegetables in recorded history. Originating in the Mediterranean Basin, Homer mentions celeriac in his poem, "The Odyssey" in 800 BC and it was cultivated more commonly by the 17th century.
- Celeriac is a grandchild of celery. Maybe that seemed obvious by the name and hints of herbaceous celery-like flavours, but that means celeriac is also related to parsley, parsnips, and carrots.
- Celeriac has many names. Most interchangeably, "celery root" but also goes by "céleri-rave", turnip-rooted celery, and knob celery.
- Celeriac is NOT closely related to the turnip. Despite both being globular roots and celeriac's nickname being "turnip-rooted celery", celeriac is from the Umbellifers family, while turnips are a part of the mustard family.
- Celeriac grows above ground. Despite having a rooted bottom much like a beet or potato, the celery 'root' still grows above ground, along with its verdant green stalks that are also edible. There are hairy bottoms that are rooted into the ground but the bulb itself sits atop the soil.
- All parts of the celeriac can be eaten. Though the leaves and stalks are often cut off for storage purposes to avoid rotting, you can reduce waste by enjoying most of this ingredient.
- Celeriac has a shelf life of 6-8 months. Celeriac is harvested in November and can be stored in low temperatures of 0-5 C. Their ability to withstand throughout the winter means you can be having celeriac through the winter months.
- If the centre is hollow, it is past its due to be eaten date. When celeriac is not fresh, the centre hollows, though sometimes fresh celeriac will have small hollows throughout. That is the nature of the vegetable. Another way to check is it will have a weaker flavour as it ages.
How-to Prepare Celeriac
Don't let its unruly exterior frighten you. Lop off the bottom with a chef's knife and cut off the peel. Behind its snaggy hulking skin, is a beautiful beige-cream flesh, less starchy than a potato and with floral, sweet, earthy, and herbaceous flavours similar to a celery-parsnip mix.
Some of our favourite flavour pairings include apples, cream, lemon juice, thyme, mustard, cilantro, and avocados. Try celeriac in our taco dish, as the shell, with our Smokey Tempeh and Roasted Celeriac Tacos.