Unearth the Hidden Gem | Celery Root, a Heart-Healthy Delight!

Celery root, commonly known as celeriac, stands humbly amidst the vibrant produce aisle, often overshadowed by the colorful allure of carrots or the alluring shapes of potatoes.

Celery Root
Unearth the Hidden Gem | Celery Root, a Heart-Healthy Delight!

Yet, concealed within its knobby exterior lies an abundance of culinary versatility and nutritional richness waiting to be explored. Dive into the realm of this unassuming root to uncover its remarkable flavors, health benefits, and endless possibilities in the kitchen.

What is the root celery?

The obscurity surrounding celery root is perhaps the primary hurdle in its journey to broader recognition. For many, it remains an undiscovered gem. But what exactly is celeriac?

Celeriac belongs to the celery family but is cultivated explicitly for its edible taproot and hypocotyl, unlike the familiar celery used for its stalks and leaves. While it lacks the fibrous strands of traditional celery, it compensates with a robust, concentrated celery essence.

Loaded with phthalides that impart the distinct celery aroma and taste, its root offers a crisp, starchy texture with tangy, nutty undertones reminiscent of parsley root, yet boasting a cleaner, fresher profile overall.

Contrary to its name, celeriac isn't the swollen root of regular celery but rather hails from a distinct celery variety (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) developed explicitly for its bulbous base rather than the stalks.

Over time, celeriac underwent refinement to minimize foliage and elongated stems, redirecting the plant's energy to enhance the size of its taproot and hypocotyl.

Known by various names like turnip-rooted celery, knob celery, and celery knob, its culinary history primarily traces back to Europe and North Africa. However, its popularity has transcended borders, steadily gaining momentum in diverse cuisines worldwide.

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Spotting Celery Root

When seeking celeriac, opt for sizable, weighty spheres ranging from baseball to softball size, featuring a firm texture and brown, papery skin enveloping a creamy white flesh. Older roots may develop hollowness at the core, diminishing their quality. Hence, select dense specimens without spongy areas. The tender and flavorful portions lie in the taproot and lower hypocotyl.

These roots grow slightly beneath the soil surface, surrounded by small surface roots. Avoid selections with numerous bulges, cracks, mold, or dark spots. Peeling away the skin and dirt is necessary, but fresh roots should exhibit a smooth, mostly spherical shape with a creamy white interior tinged with faint greenish-yellow or light gray hues.

Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

Despite its starchy nature, celery root packs an impressive nutritional punch. In just a single raw cup:

  • Fiber: 5 grams – Aids digestion, stabilizes blood sugar levels
  • Potassium: 769 mg – Supports fluid balance, nerve function, and heart health
  • Phosphorus: 150 mg – Strengthens bones, aids metabolism
  • Iron: 1.28 mg – Enhances red blood cell production and oxygen circulation
  • Magnesium: 43 mg – Regulates muscle and nerve function, boosts metabolism
  • Vitamin C: 73% DV – Promotes collagen synthesis, boosts immunity
  • Vitamin K: 21% DV – Facilitates blood clotting, improves bone density
  • Vitamin B6: 15% DV – Supports the nervous system and sustains energy levels
  • Manganese: 15% DV – Assists bone structure and metabolism
  • Calcium: 11% RDI – Strengthens bones and teeth

Celery root, being a low-carb, nutrient-dense whole food, provides antioxidants and phytochemicals that curb inflammation and safeguard cells. Its rich fiber content not only aids digestive and heart health by regulating cholesterol but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The spectrum of vitamins and minerals in celery root supports proper muscle, nerve, and metabolic functions.

Moreover, certain flavonoid antioxidants found in celery root may combat cancer by neutralizing free radicals in the body. Preliminary studies suggest that the unique phthalides in celery might contribute to lowering blood pressure, although further research is necessary. Nevertheless, integrating celery root into your diet offers an effortless way to infuse meals with essential nutrition.

Buying and Storing

Celery root boasts an impressively extended shelf life compared to most fresh produce. When kept dry, clean, and cold, whole roots can last over six months. It's advisable not to wash them until use, as excess moisture accelerates spoilage. Simply trim the stalks and rootlets with a knife, brush off any remaining dirt (peeling isn't necessary yet), and store the uncut roots in a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator's crisper drawer.

Properly stored, intact celery root remains fresh for at least one to three months. Once peeled and sliced, it stays good for about five days in an airtight container submerged in water to prevent browning. Freezing cut pieces is another effective preservation method, maintaining celery root's texture better than many other frozen options.

Where to Find Celery Root

Thanks to its extended shelf life, celery root is typically available year-round in major grocery stores. You'll often find it nestled among other root vegetables like potatoes, onions, turnips, carrots, parsnips, and beets. Its peak availability spans from fall through early spring. Check local supermarkets, natural food markets, farmers' markets, or farm stands. However, due to its relative obscurity, consistent availability varies among retailers, so a bit of searching may be necessary.

Affordability of Celery Root

As an underrated hero in the world of produce rather than a trendy superfood, celery root remains impressively cost-effective. Typically priced at:

  1. $1 – $3 per pound
  2. $2 – $4 for larger single roots weighing 1-2 pounds

Prices may vary due to seasonality, demand fluctuations, and location differences.

Preparing and Handling Celery Root

Working with celeriac requires a bit more effort due to its fibrous outer skin and tiny root hairs that need removal. To peel, start by slicing about 1/4 inch from both ends, then vertically slice downward to remove the tough skin in thick strips. Alternatively, a sturdy vegetable peeler can be used once you've peeled beyond the rootlets.

Beneath the fibrous layer lies a smooth white flesh, offering mild resistance similar to a potato or turnip when cut. Any brownish-green patches on the interior should be peeled deeper until fully removed. After peeling, rinse under cool water to remove dirt or debris from crevices. Slice, dice, or cut into wedges as preferred for use.

To prevent discolouration, immerse peeled and sliced pieces in a bowl of acidulated water (water mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar) until ready to cook. Celery root tends to oxidize and turn unappealing if exposed to air and light for too long, resulting in a greyish-brown hue.

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Celery Root

Versatile Pairings and Culinary Uses

The natural savoury essence of celery root allows it to seamlessly integrate into diverse cultural dishes, from its native French cuisine to Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European recipes. Its adaptability caters well to modern diets like plant-based, gluten-free, and paleo, owing to its lower carbs yet nutrient-dense profile.

In European cuisine, celery root often substitutes or complements potatoes, yielding rich stews, gratins, and mashed textures with cleaner flavors compared to regular varieties. Whether sautéed, puréed into velvety soups, or roasted until tender and caramelized, celery root embodies the reason why the French affectionately term it “celerisot,” likening its notes to the prized truffle.

Celery root's bright herbal qualities complement greens, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and robust herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and parsley. In salads, its firm crunch balances softer lettuces, while its slight peppery bite harmonizes with rich ingredients like cheese, nuts, and dried fruit. It's also excellent for pickling.

Across various cultures, celery root stars in traditional holiday dishes, much like potatoes or turnips. Germans prepare celeriac remoulade for Oktoberfest, while French Christmas feasts might showcase celery root paired with delicate truffles. It also enhances the mirepoix base alongside onions, carrots, and celery – hence its literal translation as “celery root.”

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Prominent Celery Root Dishes

Some beloved recipes featuring celery root include:

  • Mashed Celeriac: A vegan alternative to mashed potatoes
  • Celeriac Remoulade: Cooked and chilled celery root mixed with mustard, herbs, lemon, and mayo
  • Celeriac Risotto: A hearty rice dish with the addition of celeriac
  • Celeriac Soup: A unique twist on potato leek soup using celeriac
  • Roasted Celeriac: Oven-roasted after coating with oil and spices
  • Celeriac Fries: A colorful alternative to regular French fries
  • Celeriac Gratin: A baked casserole with cream and cheese
  • Celeriac & Apple Salad: Thinly sliced celeriac and apple with vinaigrette
  • Celery Root Slaw: Shredded celeriac paired with a classic creamy slaw dressing
  • Celeriac Mash: A delicious potato substitute in mashed form

The knobby cork-shaped corm extends its applications beyond Europe. Its nutty savoriness shines in Middle Eastern and Indian-style curries, stews, and salads. Substitute it for potatoes in dishes like samosas, biryani, or dopiaza. Blend celeriac with spices like garam masala, cumin, mustard seed, turmeric, and coconut milk for an exotic twist.

For lighter fare, julienne raw celery root into slaws or slice it thinly for standalone snacking or dipping into sauces like hummus, ranch, or blue cheese. Let the celery root take center stage, enhanced with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs.

For heartier meals, dice it uniformly and experiment by substituting celeriac into fried rice, taco fillings, frittatas, pastas, stuffed peppers, flatbreads, or even baked goods. Its versatility knows no bounds across a diverse range of global cuisines.

Choosing Celery Root

When selecting celery root for purchase, look for:

  • Compact, dense, heavy bulbs with minimal blemishes
  • Prefer golf ball to small melon-sized roots for optimal quality
  • Avoid overly large specimens prone to becoming woody
  • Smooth skin free from substantial mold, cracks, or bruises
  • Fresh, vibrant green tops still attached
  • A firm texture when gently squeezed (no soft spots)
  • May have a few thin rootlet hairs protruding

Opt for celery root that meets most of these criteria for the best quality when preparing at home.


this glimpse into the world of celery root unveils its remarkable versatility and nutritional richness, urging a more frequent presence in both shopping lists and culinary creations.

Despite its unassuming appearance, this robust and nourishing vegetable holds immense culinary potential. Thanks to improved storage techniques, celery root is increasingly available in mainstream markets, inviting you to explore its possibilities.

Take a step forward and dive into the realm of celery root, discovering and embracing its potential in delightful recipes. Don't let its humble exterior deceive you—embrace the versatility of celeriac today!

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