Learn how to grow celeriac and read about its European origins.
The unsung hero of the vegetable world, knobbly, odd-shaped celeriac has a subtle, celery-like flavour, with nutty overtones. Try it as mash, in big-flavoured, slow-cook dishes, or in its classic form, and as they do in France, as a remoulade.
Celeriac has been bred from wild celery, which originates from Northern Europe. It grows best in a soil which has been fertilised the previous season, too much nitrogen in the soil from manure etc. will encourage leaf growth rather then growth of the bulbous root.
The best soil is that which retains moisture but is also free-draining. Although those are the ideal conditions celeriac is very tolerant of soil conditions and will grow well on most sites.
Plant in full sunshine if possible.
WATER AND FEEDING
Celeriac is shallow rooted and requires even, regular watering. Lack of soil moisture will cause celeriac to stop growing. Keep the top few inches of soil moist at all times.
Harvest celeriac when the swollen root is 3 to 4 inches across or slightly larger. Cut stems close to the knobby root; use a garden fork to lift the roots. Celeriac will increase with flavor following a light frost, but should be harvested before the first hard freeze. Leaves can be used to flavor soups and stews. From seed, celeriac will reach harvest in 110 to 120 days.
COOKING and EATING
Celeriac discolours quickly, immerse in a bowl of water, after chopping to size, with a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of white wine vinegar added (also known as ‘acidulated water’).
Remoulade or rémoulade, invented in France, is a popular condiment in many countries. Very much like the tartar sauce of some English-speaking cultures, remoulade is often aioli- or mayonnaise-based. It can also contain horseradish, paprika, anchovies, capers and a host of other items. While its original purpose was to serve with meats, it is now more often used as an accompaniment to seafood dishes, especially pan-fried breaded fish fillets (primarily sole and plaice).