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, soups, and stews, especially in the countryside 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.
|Fresh root celery in a market.
Photo courtesy: nostri-imago
Celeriac is a biennial (but can grow perennially) and demands full sunlight and enough moisture in the soil to flourish. It has a similar growth habit and appearance as that of the leaf celery. However, unlike leaf celery, it produces a turnip-like, large, gray, globular tuber just underneath the soil surface. Its celery-like leaves are long, hollow petioles, which, however, are rarely used in recipes.
Celeriac root features a rough, knobby outer surface covered with tiny rootlets. Inside, its smooth white flesh has a celery-like flavor. It measures about 3-4 inches in diameter and weighs about 1-2 pounds.
Celeriac is very low in calories. 100 g root holds just 42 calories, quite higher than that of leaf celery. Its smooth flesh has awesome 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 the 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 a splendid source of vitamin-K. 100 g root provides about 41 µg or 34% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-K improves bone mineralization by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bones. Research studies suggest that it also has an established role in Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
The root is an excellent 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 essential for bone metabolism.
Further, it contains some of the 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).
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percent of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.30 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.8 g||5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.352 mg||6%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||8 mg||13%|
|Vitamin E||0.36 mg||2%|
|Vitamin K||41 µg||34%|
If grown in the backyard, celeriac will be ready for harvest by August but can be available so until December. In the stores, they can be readily available and in some markets from September to April.
Buy medium-sized 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 the case of turnips and carrots. It has good keeping quality and can store well for 3-4 months if kept between 0°C and 5°C set at 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.
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 top end and base. Then cut the entire tuber into quarters or cubes. Scrape off its outer skin using a thick knife.
Just as in potatoes, it turns brown soon after 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 them into recipes. Boiled celeriac can be mashed and added to vegetables.
Here are some serving tips:
|Plaice served with green peas, broad beans and mashed celeriac.
Celeriac is employed as you use other root vegetables. It imparts delicate celery flavor to the recipes.
It can be used raw in salads, coleslaw, French celeriac remoulade, as a garnish (grated).
Root celery can also be used in soups, sauce, pie, casseroles.
Celeriac contains several furanocoumarin compounds like psoralen, bergapten, xanthotoxin, and isopimpinellin which may cause skin 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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Refer Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.