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Celeriac The Ugliest ,Yet Tasty, Vegetable

by Spicie Foodie on September 7, 2010

Celeriac, also know as celery root or knob celery, is probably the world’s ugliest vegetable. Okay maybe not THE ugliest but definitely one of the ugliest. But you know that saying don’t judge a book by it’s cover, well that should apply to fruits and vegetables too ( not that they wear covers but you get the point) .

Once you cut away the bumpy, rough, dirty outer layer and cut off the almost woody dry green stalks Celeriac is quite palatable. Celeriac is a type of celery and they are both in the same Apium graveolens rapaceum family. Celery is primarily grown and used for the tall green stalks, where as celeriac is grown for it’s root. Celeriac can be as large as a small cantaloupe or as small as a large potato. What does Celeriac taste like?, it taste like celery. The inside is white, thick and crunchy when you bite into it. Though it is safe to eat the stalks, people don’t because they taste terrible and have a woody textures so they are just discarded. The leaves on both celery and celeriac are also typically discarded.

I buy celeriac to cook in soups and a delicious salad recipe that I will share with you another time. If you do a quick search you will find many recipes using celeriac in soups, as a mash , and I even found an Italian recipe battering and frying celeriac. If you would like some tips on buying, storing and a few recipes I suggest you start here, Veg Box.

Today I want to show you how and why I do not discard the leaves. When I buy both celeriac and celery I will right away remove the leaves. I do this so that I can preserve them and use them as an herb in a lot of my recipes and when I run out of fresh celery. But you can also use the leaves to put in salads, or use like you would a fresh herb.

Start by removing only the leaves from the stalks, then place in a large bowl and cover with cold water and allow to site for a couple of minutes. This soaking is because celery root tend to come with a lot of dirt and this is to assure that all of the dirt is removed from the leaves. The leaves will float to the top, scoop them out and place on a colander and throw out the water they were soaking in. Rinse the bowl and repeat the step one more time. Again place the leaves in a colander and allow to drain for 20 minutes. After they need to be placed on a baking sheet lined with waxed or baking paper.

Now there are to ways to dry them 1. place inside a very-very low heated oven to slowly dry. Do not let them burn. or 2. Leave out to dry in a dry place, and they will dry within 1-2 days. Either way you choose you should turn the leaves a couple of times to ensure even drying.

Once the leaves have completely dried, place inside a blender and pulse for a few seconds to break down. If you would rather leave the leaves whole you may do so. I sometimes just put some of the leaves between my hands and break them up like that, it’s your choice. Store in a dry dark place as you would any other spice.

Next time you run out of celery you can use some of the dried leaves in the recipe and still have the celery taste. Or just add them to any of your recipes as you would any other herb. So next time you buy celeriac or celery you can use almost or all of the vegetable, and that is a nice feeling.

in Spotlight On,Vegan/Vegetarian,Vegetables

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stella September 9, 2010 at 12:26 AM

Yeah, that celeriac is actually pretty ugly. I would have to agree with you on that one, Nancy (smile). It is delicious though, and I love your tutorial on how to not waste and use the leaves. I will remember this when I buy more celeriac!

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2 Magic of Spice September 9, 2010 at 2:35 AM

Oh my goodness…I do that with celery leaves to, and I also add them to my soups :) This is a great post Nancy! Ugly can be deceiving :)
P.S. Why does Stella beat me as first comment every time, lol :)

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3 alison September 9, 2010 at 4:09 AM

here,in romania,we use the celery root and leaves.the root is used in soupes ans salads and the leaves in another lot of dishes,in tomatoes soupe,par exemple…

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4 Conor @ Hold the Beef September 9, 2010 at 10:27 AM

I was actually just thinking the other day how little I know about celeriac, so you'd just helped my ignorance out tremendously! Ugly yes, but they can't all be lovely little green trees or shiny red orbs ;)

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5 Alina September 9, 2010 at 11:26 AM

Hey but I wouldn't say it's too ugly:) I have to confess though I've never tried celeriac before, much as I like celery (both leaves and roots).
Congrats on winning the Foodista Best of Food blogs book contest btw!! Which was your recipe then?! I haven't browsed through all 100 winners yet!

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6 Lea Ann September 9, 2010 at 12:16 PM

I've never bought celeric. Thanks for this post, at least I know what to do with it now.

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7 Brie: Le Grand Fromage September 9, 2010 at 2:52 PM

great post! i always like finding new ways to use foods so the least amount is “waste”. i think i'll feel less guilty one day when i can throw things into a compost instead of the garbage.

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8 Pacheco Patty September 9, 2010 at 3:54 PM

I love celeriac! The picture of this ugly bulb is actually making my mouth water, LOL! Next time I prepare it I will use the leaves, thanks:)

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9 City Share September 9, 2010 at 6:03 PM

I have never used celeriac. Thanks for all the info. I'll be sure to keep my out for them now.

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10 Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron September 9, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Yeah it's ugly haha. I can't wait to see the next recipe made from this ugly betty. You sure get good use out of it. That's a smart idea to make dried celery! Clever Nancy!

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11 Debbie September 9, 2010 at 8:26 PM

I feel a little smarter after reading this. You are so wasteless in your food, that is great! I have never thought to save the leaves off the celery and I have never even hear of celeriac! Thanks

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12 girlichef September 9, 2010 at 9:58 PM

What I love about celeriac is the pure flavor! My favorite way is just in a mash w/ half taters…although I love it in anything! I find it so ugly it's beautiful (kinda like E.T…only I classify him as cute, not beautiful) ;)

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13 Pegasuslegend September 10, 2010 at 12:23 AM

great information never knew about this one!

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14 Baking Barrister September 10, 2010 at 5:21 AM

that's a really awesome idea–too many people discard the edible leaves of vegetables (i enjoy beet greens). I actually put the leaves in my pot when making chicken stock or soup. We freeze chicken bones & skin from any roast chicken we eat and then, when we have enough, we make a massive pot of stock. I freeze the leaves in the same bag.

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15 Liv Wan September 10, 2010 at 11:41 AM

I love the last name of celeriac “Knob celery” lol. I never know that name before.

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16 newlywed September 10, 2010 at 11:53 AM

This is a great post! Beautiful photos and such a great tip. I never knew you could do that with the leaves, and I love being able to use parts of vegetables that would otherwise be tossed away.

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17 Friday Delights September 10, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Yeah, that’s one ugly vegetable but u make it look so great in the photo.

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18 penny aka jeroxie September 11, 2010 at 11:09 AM

I somehow never really liked celeraic. Maybe it is too earthy and I think an acquired taste?

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19 Spicie Foodie September 12, 2010 at 6:09 PM

@Alisha MoS, yeah me to they go in most of my soups. Hehe Stella does? I don't think I noticed that before, funny :)

@Alison, here too.
@Conor, Glad to offer some knowledge.
@Alina, thanks and congrats to you too.Mine is the Luscousiou Thai Pineapple Chicken curry.

@Tanantha,hehe ugly betty!
@Girlichef, hehe love it!
@Liv, LOL I couldn't stop laughing at your FB post :)
@Penny, I think it may be so I hope the salad recipe will help you like it more.

And everyone else, I'm glad that you would all agree about not being wasteful and enjoy as much of the fruit/vegetable as possible.

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20 my boyfriend cooks for me September 14, 2010 at 8:52 PM

I *love* celeriac, but never even considered using the leaves for anything – thanks for the idea!

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21 Spicie Foodie September 15, 2010 at 9:31 PM

Hi my boyfriend cooks for me,
No problem:)

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