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Unveiling the Enigma: Exploring the Flavor of Celeriac

What is celeriac and what does it taste like?

Celeriac, also known as celery root, celery root, or knob celery, is a vegetable that often goes unnoticed in the produce aisle. While many people are familiar with celery and its crunchy stalks, celeriac has a distinct appearance and flavor that sets it apart. In this article, we’ll explore what celery is, its flavor profile, and how to prepare and cook it.

The Ugly Duckling of the Vegetable World

Celeriac has a fascinating history dating back centuries. The first mention of celeriac can be traced back to Homer’s Odyssey in 800 BC. Despite its ancient roots, celery remains relatively unknown to the average person. NPR once called it “the ugly duckling of the vegetable world,” highlighting its unattractive appearance compared to its more popular cousin, celery.

Same plant, different culture

Although celery and celeriac come from the same plant, they are grown for different parts. Celery is grown for its stalks, which are commonly used in salads, soups, and snacks. Celeriac, on the other hand, is grown for its root. Imagine celery with a bulbous, bumpy appearance and you have celeriac.

A flavorful twist on celery

Despite its unconventional appearance, celeriac has a similar flavor profile to celery. It has been described as earthy and nutty with a hint of freshness reminiscent of celery. Some compare it to a turnip, while others liken it to a combination of celery and parsley. Celeriac’s unique flavor adds depth and complexity to dishes, making it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen.

Preparing and Cooking Celeriac

Celeriac can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, depending on your preference and the dish you’re preparing. Before cooking, however, it’s important to properly peel the celeriac to remove the tough outer layer and reveal the inner white flesh. To peel celery without losing too much of the vegetable, start by cutting off the ends and using a sharp knife to remove the rough outer layer.
Similar to apples, peeled celery tends to darken and discolor when exposed to air. To prevent this, you can store cut celery in a bowl of water with a little lemon juice or vinegar until you’re ready to cook it.

Endless culinary possibilities

Celeriac’s versatility makes it an exciting ingredient to experiment with in the kitchen. One popular way to enjoy celery is to make celery tart, a simple salad of shredded raw celery, mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice. The result is a refreshing and tangy dish that showcases the unique flavor of celeriac.
But the possibilities don’t end there. Celeriac can be turned into a creamy bisque, mashed with potatoes for a savory side dish, pureed and served with seasoned pork, or even used to make delicious celeriac latkes. Its flavor and texture lend themselves to a variety of cooking methods and culinary creations.

Embrace the unconventional

Next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t overlook the bumpy, odd-looking root called celeriac. Give it a chance, and you just might discover a new favorite vegetable. With its rich flavor, versatility, and fascinating history, celeriac is a hidden gem waiting to be explored in your kitchen. So peel, chop, and cook this unique vegetable to unlock a world of culinary possibilities.


What is celery?

Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a vegetable grown for its bulbous, knobby root rather than its stalks. It is a member of the celery family, but has a distinct appearance and flavor.

What does celery taste like?

Celeriac has a unique flavor profile that is earthy, nutty, and slightly reminiscent of celery. It offers a refreshing hint of freshness similar to parsley, making it a versatile ingredient in a variety of dishes.

Can I eat celery raw?

Yes, celery can be eaten raw. It can be shredded and added to salads or used as a crunchy topping for sandwiches. However, it is important to peel it properly to remove the tough outer layer before eating it raw.

What are some popular ways to cook celery?

Celeriac can be cooked in a variety of ways. It can be boiled, roasted, mashed, or pureed. It can be used as a flavorful addition to soups, stews, and gratins. It can also be transformed into delicious dishes such as celeriac remoulade or celeriac latkes.

How do I peel celery?

To peel celery, start by cutting off the ends and using a sharp knife to remove the rough outer layer. Be careful not to peel too much of the vegetable. It is advisable to store peeled celery in water with a little lemon juice or vinegar to prevent discoloration.

Where can I find celery?

Celeriac is available at many grocery stores and farmers’ markets, especially during the fall and winter seasons. Look for round, knobby roots with fresh looking skin. It is often sold with other root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips.

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