This concise guide offers lots of ideas for how to use celeriac, with tips on prep, storage, and links to recipes. Also known as celery root, knob celery, and turnip celery, this gnarly vegetable might not win any beauty contests, but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in flavor and versatility.
What does celeriac taste like? Once you peel away this less-than-pretty vegetable’s rugged exterior, you’ll unveil a crisp, slightly sweet flesh with a distinct, earthy taste reminiscent of celery.
What is Celeriac and Where Did It Come From?
First of all, do celery and celeriac from the same plant? Yes and no. While they’re both from the plant Apium graveolens, ordinary celery is cultivated for the familiar stalks, while celeriac is cultivated for the root. Learn more about the distinction.
Wild celeriac has grown in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East for millennia, with the earliest evidence found in ancient Egyptian tombs dating back to 1100 BCE. In its earliest days, it was considered more of a medicinal ingredient than a culinary delight.
Once successfully cultivated, celery root spread to Europe where it became a staple vegetable during the Middle Ages. Especially in Germany and France, it took off as a cheaper, longer-lasting way to infuse the taste of fresh celery into classic dishes, while standard leafy stalks would rot without refrigeration.
Celeriac arrived in the U.S. in the 19th century but never took off in popularity quite the same way it did in Europe.
How to Buy and Store Celeriac
When selecting celeriac, opt for medium-sized roots that feel heavy for their size. Look for a firm, unblemished exterior, as bruises may indicate mishandling or age.
The greens are often cut before the vegetables make it to mainstream supermarkets, but if attached, should be fresh and vibrant. Avoiding any roots that appear shriveled or excessively hairy.
Celeriac is in season through fall and winter but is generally available all year round. It has a reasonably long shelf life when stored properly. Keep it in the refrigerator crisper drawer, unwashed and uncut, where it can last for several weeks.
Once cut and blanched (plunged into boiling water for four minutes, immediately transferred to ice water, and thoroughly drained), prepped celeriac freezes well, too.
Make sure the pieces are patted dry before placing them in airtight containers or zip-top bags to reduce the amount of ice crystals that may form over time. In a standard home freezer, it can be kept for 6 to 8 months without any loss in flavor.
Can celeriac be eaten raw?
Before moving onto how to cook with it, let’s establish that celeriac can indeed be eaten raw. Diced, it’s a great salad ingredient; grated, it’s a lovely addition to slaws.
Before adding to salads, drop pieces into cold water with lemon juice or vinegar added; this helps prevent the discoloration that happens when the vegetable is cut.
How to Prep and Cook Celeriac
First, we need to get past the challenging exterior. Standard vegetable peelers aren’t up to the task of getting around all those odd nooks and crevasses; you’ll have better luck using a sharp paring knife and proceeding with caution.
Beneath the rugged exterior lies pale ivory flesh, ready to eat raw or cooked in any way you might enjoy other root vegetables.
Once exposed to oxygen, the delicate interior will discolor quickly. As you’re working, it’s a good idea to keep a bowl of ice water with a touch of lemon juice or vinegar nearby to submerge the cut pieces and prevent them from browning.
Much like a potato, celeriac can be steamed, boiled, roasted, fried, sautéed, stewed, mashed, and more. The dense flesh becomes especially creamy and rich when pureed, creating instant cream soups without using a drop of dairy.
Celeriac and Carrot Soup from Through the Fibro Fog
Celeriac Nutrition Notes
Hidden within that tangled ball of roots is a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals. Celeriac is an especially good source of Vitamin C and K, phosphorus, and potassium. It’s remarkably low in calories and high in fiber, which makes it an excellent substitute for regular starchy spuds.
Cooking may reduce the bioavailable nutrients, so to reap the greatest health rewards, try to enjoy raw celeriac on occasion and embrace its naturally crunchy texture. Here’s its complete nutrition profile.
Celeriac Recipes and Serving Suggestions
Welcoming celeriac into your home and daily diet is a snap once you get your first taste. The mild, subtly sweet, and nutty flavor will win over veggie lovers with ease. Even if you don’t like celery, you can forget that stringy texture and try these simple ideas instead.
Salads and slaws: Celeriac can be grated or shredded and tossed into any green salad to add subtle celery flavor. It’s compatible with carrots and apples in raw preparations. Try these:
Celeriac fries: Cut into batons and dipped into hot oil, celery root is transformed into far more flavorful fries than starchy spud ever could be. For a lower-fat option, try cooking them in an air fryer with just a light spray of oil to ensure a crispy exterior.
Creamy Celeriac Puree from Creative in My Kitchen
Mashed or pureed: Boil or steam until tender, then mash solo or with potatoes for a unique twist on the traditional mash. Don’t forget to dress it up with dairy-free butter, fresh herbs, and a dollop of Vegan Mushroom Gravy for special occasions. For an OMG fancy meal, see Vegan Bourguinon with Celeriac Mash.
Soups and stews: Celeriac adds depth to soups and stews, infusing them with its distinct flavor. They’re especially well-suited to slow cooking or long braises and don’t fall apart as easily. It also makes a delicious pureed soup. More delicious examples in addition to the soup shown earlier in this post:
Roasted Celery Root and Carrots with Parsley and Dill
from The Roasted Root
Roasted: Cube the peeled vegetable, toss it with olive oil, salt, and your favorite herbs, then roast until golden brown for a delightful side dish. If you need more specific instructions, see Easy Oven Roasted Celeriac. Try incorporating it into a Roasted Root Vegetable Salad to make a more exciting mix of colors and earthy flavors.
Vegan Schnitzel from Vegan on Board
Steaks & schnitzel: Move over, cauliflower! Celeriac Steaks are the new meatless fillet. Thickly sliced and pan-seared or deep fried as the case may be, they develop a gorgeous golden-brown crust and tender, buttery interior.
Cakes and bread: Though unconventional, Ants on a Log Cupcakes is a playful way to eat your veggies for dessert. If that takes things a step too far though, it’s a snap to swap out some or all the shredded carrot or zucchini for celery root in your favorite carrot cake or zucchini bread recipes.
Rutabaga or turnip swap-in: Use celeriac in recipes calling for rutabaga or turnips for an interesting, celery-like twist.
Contributed by Hannah Kaminsky: Hannah has developed an international following for her delicious recipes and mouthwatering food photography at the award-winning blog BitterSweet. Passionate about big flavors and simple techniques, she’s the author of Vegan Desserts, Vegan à la Mode, Easy as Vegan Pie, Real Food, Really Fast, Sweet Vegan Treats, The Student Vegan Cookbook, Super Vegan Scoops, and The Everyday Vegan Cheat Sheet Pan. Visit Hannah at BittersweetBlog.com.
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