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Celeriac nutrition facts

Celeriac, also known as root-celery, is a closely related variety of common leaf celery. It is grown for its delicious, knobby underground root. Root celery is a popular winter-season root vegetable employed as mashed in dishes, in soups, and stews, especially in the country-side of Eastern and North European regions.

Botanically, it belongs to the carrot or Apiaceae family, in the genus; Apium. Scientific name: Apium graveolens var. rapaceum.

celeriac in a market
Fresh root celery in a market.
Photo courtesy: nostri-imago

Celeriac is a biennial (but can grow perennially) and has similar growth habit and appearance as that of leaf-celery. It demands full sun and enough moisture in the soil to flourish. The unique feature, however, is that it develops turnip-like large, gray, globular tuber just underneath the ground surface. Its celery-like leaves feature long, hollow petioles which, however, rarely used in the recipes unlike as in leaf celery.

Celeriac root features coarse, knobby outer surface covered with tiny rootlets. Inside, its white smooth flesh has celery-like flavor. It measures about 3-4 inches in diameter and weighs about 1-2 pound.

Health benefits of Celeriac

  • Celeriac is very low in calories. 100 g root holds just 42 calories, quite higher than that of leaf-celery. Its smooth flesh has some health benefiting plant-nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber.

  • As that in carrot and other members of Apiaceae family vegetables, celeriac too contains many poly-acetylene anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol.

  • Several research studies from scientists at University of Newcastle at Tyne found that these compounds possess anti-cancer properties and, thereby, may offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

  • Celeriac is very good source of vitamin K. 100 g root provides about 41 µg or 34% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-K improve bone mineralization by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. Research studies suggest that it also has established role in Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

  • The root is a very good source of some of the essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper, and manganese. Phosphorus is required for cell metabolism, maintaining blood buffer system, bone and teeth formation. Copper helps restore immunity, prevents anemia, and required for bone metabolism.

  • Further, it contains some of valuable B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. Fresh root also provides moderate amounts of vitamin C (8 mg/100 g).

Selection and storage

If grown in the backyard, celeriac will be ready for harvest by August, but can be available so until December. In the stores, Celery roots can be readily sold in the local farmer markets and in some up-markets from September to April.

Buy medium-size tubers measuring about 3-4 inches in diameter. Look for smooth and even surface tubers, as they are easy to peel and possess subtle flavor. Avoid large, over-matured roots and those with surface cracks.

Once at home, store celeriac as you would do in case of turnips and carrots. It has a very good keeping quality and can store well for 3-4 months if kept between 0°C and 5°C set at a high relative humidity and not allowed to become dry in between. Keep it in a plastic bag inside the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Do not store celeriac inside the deep freezer.

Preparation and serving methods

To prepare, just scrub and wash the root in cold running water to remove off surface sand and soil. Mop dry using an absorbent cloth. Trim off at top and base. Then cut the entire tuber into quarters or cubes. Scrape-off its outer skin using a thick knife.

Just like potato, it turns brownish discoloration soon after upon exposure to air. Simply rub a lemon or orange slice over the cut surface. Chop its white flesh into cubes, slices as you may desire before adding into recipes. Boiled celeriac can be mashed and added to vegetables.

Here are some serving tips:

plaice served with mashedceleriac
Plaice served with green peas, broad beans and mashed celeriac.
Photo courtesy: adactio
  • Celeriac is employed as you use other root vegetables. It imparts delicate celery flavor to the recipes it is added to.

  • It can be used raw in salads, coleslaw, French celeriac remoulade, as a garnish (grated)…etc.

  • Boiled, and mashed, celeriac makes a delicious mix with mashed-potatoes. It can then be served with fish, meat, and with other root vegetables like potato, beets, kohlrabi, turnip, carrots…etc.

  • Root celery can also be used in soups, sauce, pie, casseroles…etc.

Safety profile

Celeriac contains several furano-coumarin compounds like psoralen, bergapten, xanthotoxin and isopimpinellin which may cause skin to burn (photo-toxicity) in some sensitive individuals. Moreover, like celery, it should be avoided in large quantities in pregnant women. Likewise, people on diuretic medications and anti-coagulant medications should use this root sparingly. (Medical disclaimer).

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Further reading:

1. USDA - Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

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