Celeriac

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 08. May. 2020

Celeriac might not be incredibly popular in the U.S., but it's worth taking a look at this nutritious and uniquely flavored root vegetable.

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Celeriac...

  • ...is good for the stomach. The essential oils and bitter substances contained in celeriac can calm an irritated stomach, neutralize an excess of gastric acid and alleviate mild stomach aches.
  • ...has an antibacterial effect. Whether bacteria, viruses or fungi, the essential mustard oils in celeriac can help defuse all these potentially disease-causing malefactors.
  • ...stimulates digestion. Thanks to the many terpenes (bitter compounds) it contains, celeriac has a stimulating effect on the entire digestive system, helping to activate the digestive juices and enzymes in the liver, bile and pancreas. Celeriac leaves contain a particularly large amount of these bitter substances.
  • ...helps with flatulance. If you tend to get gas, celeriac can help. The best way to do this is to prepare a tea: cut the celeriac root into small pieces, pour cold water over it, bring it to a brief boil, strain, and drink unsweetened.
  • ...helps strengthen the nervous system and brain. Celeriac gets its unique smell from the essential oils which are mainly contained in its leaves. They have a calming effect and regulate the nervous system.
  • ...could enhance the libido. For centuries it has been said that celeriac is a natural libido-enhancer. This has not been proven so far, but the fact is that celeriac actually contains hormone-like substances that are chemically very similar to human pheromones).
  • ...isn't for everyone. People with kidney disease should eat celeriac with caution and preferably only in consultation with a doctor. The same applies to pregnant women.

What You Should Know About Celeriac

With its dark and wrinkled skin, celeriac doesn't exactly look like a culinary delight. But the appearance is deceptive, as is often the case, because the spherical and often heavy vegetable is very special in every respect.

The flesh of celeriac is surprisingly white after peeling and has a pleasant, earthy taste. The very young celeriacs, which are only about 1-2 inches in size, are the most tender variety and are particularly sought-after. 

Good to know: over time, the cultivation of celeriac with completely white flesh has become most common. However the yellow-colored varieties contain the most essential oils. 

Origins

Originally, celeriac comes from the Mediterranean region, but today it is cultivated throughout Europe, especially in the Netherlands, and in the United States.

Season

Greenhouse cultivation starts as early as May, while from July to November, celeriac is harvested from the field. 

Flavor

The consistency of celeriac can range from sponge-like soft to very firm, depending on the season and size. Celeriac has an unmistakably spicy taste and the essential oils contained in it are typical of celeriac.

Our Favorite Celeriac Recipes

Find all our celeriac recipes here.

How Healthy Is Celeriac?

Celeriac is low in calories and fat but contains various essential oils, including phthalides and apiin, which are very important to health. These essential oils make celeriac easily digestible, have a stimulating effect on digestion and metabolism and can ward against excess gas. A high potassium content also has a gentle detoxifying effect on the body, while celeriac's powerful combination of insoluble fibers and high water content can help prevent against constipation and digestive disorders. Apigenin, the light yellow plant pigment found in celeriac, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

In general, celeriac offers considerable amounts of vitamins A, B, C and E, and is rich in fiber.

CELERIAC NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g)  
Calories 27
Protein 1.5 g
Fat 0.3 g
Carbohydrates 2.2 g
Fiber 4.2 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

In spring, summer and early autumn, celeriac is often found with its foliage, which has two advantages: firstly, the green shows how fresh the celeriac really is. Secondly, the leaves of celeriac contain a lot of nutritious essential oils.

Later in the season, celeriac is only available without its green leaves. With this variety, the easiest way to test freshness is by pressing it firmly-- if it is soft to the touch, move on. In its prime, celeriac should be firm to the touch. 

Storage

Celeriac is stored from late autumn onwards in cool, frost-free rooms under damp sand or peat. Under these conditions it can keep for many months. At home it is sufficient to keep celeriac in the refrigerator, where it will stay fresh for two to three weeks.

Preparation

To access the celeriac's white flesh, simply cut off the roots and leaves and peel it with a peeler. Make sure to remove all unsightly brown spots in the process, as these can add a bad flower.

Then wash, drain and, depending on the recipe, first cut into quarters, slices or planes and then into cubes or strips. Since celeriac is relatively hard, it is advisable to use as large and heavy a knife as possible for cutting.

Unlike celery, celeriac must be peeled before consumption. However remember that when the white, firm flesh comes into contact with oxygen, it quickly begins to oxidize and turns brown. Lemon juice can slow down the oxidation process.

What To Make With Celeriac

Celeriac is most traditional in purees or soups. It's dense structure also a great meat substitute for vegetarians. Overall, celeriac is very versatile, and pairs extremely well with a variety of dishes and recipes, including other vegetables, meat, fish and poultry.

Celeriac also tastes great when eaten raw, adding a spicy note to fresh salads and slaws. 

If you get a hold of celeriac with fresh green leaves, don't throw them away! Instead wash them thoroughly, chop and sprinkle the leaves over soups, salads and vegetables, for added flavor, nutrients and a dash of color. 

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