Celeriac – the new black?

Celeriac_09_09_12 (6)

Celeriac is making a kitchen comeback – I see it more and more in the grocers and markets and with mentionitus extending to recipes online – this season’s  new black or in the cookery world the new Orzo. Suddenly everyone is playing around with this classic winter vegetable, it’s mild celery flavour perfect for mashing or slicing finely for a gratin. But for me, having spent so much time in France this last couple of years, Celeriac is all about salad. A winter salad.  Perfect for lunch, an appetiser or a side dish whatever you plan to eat.

The Odd Ball of the vegetable world

Every time I read something about Celeriac I hear the word ugly. Harsh! Mind your manners too! I say change your tune food writers,  I think it’s rather beautiful with it’s knobbly outer skin – twisting and turning every which way. Beautiful in my world. But maybe that’s because I have a different world view or maybe it’s just that I want to grow them.

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Growing Celeriac

I tried growing it a few years ago, but managed to choose a very dry year and if I’m honest I just sowed them and plonked them in, sat back and waited for nature to take it’s course. Nature did take it’s course, and produced diddly squat. Nada. Rien.  So back to the drawing board I go; not only do I want to succeed in growing celeriac but I want to taste the difference of home grown – I’m sure it will be better, time and gardening will tell.

Having read up on the best techniques I realise that they are a little sensitive, preferring a slow gentle start to life on a warm windowsill, planted on and gradually hardened off in a greenhouse or cold frame. They are frost sensitive so will need fleecing or protection when first planted out in May or early June. The advice is to plant out in rich fertile soil about 10cm apart so that the emerging swollen part of the celeriac root sits just above the surface of the soil.. And then the important part – it will need watering – small amounts regularly are best not an infrequent  drowning-drenching as is my usual slap-dash manner! I’m planning on mulching as much as possible as that is one of the best ways (for me) to keep moisture in the soil around the roots of a plant. The other thing I will need to remember is to protect them from slugs and pigeons – they have a penchant for tender greens too.

If you have ever grown celeriac I’d love to hear your do’s and don’ts!

celeriac_Great Dixter

In the meantime how about making some Céleri Rémoulade– I can pick it up pretty much anywhere in France, alongside the carottes râpée and betteraves râpées. And back home I miss these simple quick fix salads so its time to remedy that.

I’ve been searching for a proper Rémoulade recipe – I’ve seen many a version involving mayonnaise, crème fraiche and even sugar – yes someone out there thinks it’s a good idea to add sugar. Before I go off on a tangent about adding sugar to foods where frankly it has no need to be I’ll get on with my search for a Rémoulade. After all the looking on line, following links down dead alleys  the answer was here in my kitchen – Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking  in her chapter on sauces. I should have looked there first!

Sauce Rémoulade –

“Pound the yolks of two hard boiled eggs to a paste with a drop of vinegar. Stir in a raw yolk, a teaspoon of French mustard, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Add olive oil (about ¼ of a pint) as for mayonnaise. Flavour with a teaspoon each of chopped tarragon, chives and capers.”


Céleri Rémoulade aka Celeriac Salad

Take  a Celeriac root and chop about ¼ of it off and peel the skin off. Work quickly as the Celeriac will discolour. If in doubt squeeze some lemon juice over chopped pieces as you work. Finely slice the root into matchsticks or grate on a mandolin. Take a generous tablespoon of the rémoulade and coat the sticks well.

Celeriac Salad (2)

Of course you can go and try whatever dressing you like on your Celeriac – Nigel Slater does one as does David Lebovitz , just do me a favour and don’t add sugar to the new season’s black.



  • I adore this veg and have many recipes on the blog about it, even a remoulade! I like the dressing you made Claire, sounds delicious!

  • I’ve only ever bought and cooked celeriac once, adding it to mashed potatoes for a change in pace which I served with some braised beef pot roast. It’s flavour, like celery stalks, was almost sweet on its own and I enjoyed it but I neglected any other ways of serving it.

    I’ve made regular mayo, once, as I rarely use it at home, Miracle Whip is my preferred spread, but it was very tasty and I hoped to look into variations, like a remoulade, to dress it up. I look forward to a new enthusiasm for cooking and especially using fresh herbs etc later in the spring to attempt something like it.

    • I love combining flavours like parsnip-potato mash, and as you say celeriac-potato works brilliantly too.
      I rarely make mayo, like you I don’t eat much of it but every now and then a recipe seems to demand it – like patatas bravas!

  • The new black? What was wrong with the old black? Seems like I’m always at least a season behind. By the time I get around to trying celeriac, which I still call celery root (See what I mean?), you all will be feasting on some new taste sensation. That’s fine. I shall forge onward, buy a bulb (?), and give it a whirl. I only hope the person running the cash register at my market doesn’t say something like, “It’s about time!” when she sees I’ve bought celeriac. 🙂

    • Oh sweetie dahling the old black is the new black
      It just seems that every now and then there is a new black – as I said like Orzo, suddenly everyone is on about it and usually it’s me who is the last in the queue !

  • I have never eaten celeriac! Guess I better get with the current trend! Thank you for the introduction Claire, I will search for this gem at my local Farmer’s market.

    • That’s what it looks like – thank you ! I wonder if I photo-shopped the image I could get some good colours going through it like you do when the brain is scanned?!

    • Thank you Linda, I planted the iris near our pond at home, in a complete rush last autumn and had forgotten about them so I had a delightful surprise on my return from France. Thanks again

  • I’ve only used this once, so I’ve got lots to learn about celeraic as an ingredient. I like thinking of it as the new black!

  • I adore celeriac, but I’ll be buggered if I can grow them! I might have to try again, especially as we’ve had a bit of luck with the Hamburg parsleys this year, and they’re quite delicious. Lovely post, Claire!

  • Ooh! I’m headed off on a celeriac tear myself. It may be that things have gotten all trendy-fied on us, but sometimes these things occurs simply because great minds are thinking alike. 😀

    • I also thin some of it may be down to the grow it local, source it local , eat more in tune with the seasons kind of movement as well as genius minds :0

  • Won’t even attempt to grow! But, if I manage to traverse all of my four local supermarkets, one of them [or more] will stock it season. Have had the remoulade many times but have [honest’injun} never made it myself! About time with this lovely recipe!!

    • If in doubt check out the Nigel Slater recipe – possibly easier than making your own mayo type dressing – but it was good – I also had plenty left just to stick a chunk of celery or three into it and devour it like that !!

    • Hi there Joss – that’s cos you are wonderful and clever!!
      I must admit I find it interesting that some recipes have travelled and stayed and others have been lost on the way. Bon app 😉

  • We have only tried grieing once and it made all tops and no bottom, no idea why. I always use lemon when I am prepping it, usually squeezed into a bowl of water to stop it discolouring. I love celeriac, one of my all time favourite veggies, along with trench grown autumn celery, a seasonal delight. I did enjoy your post! good luck with the growing this season xx

    • I’ve never had great success with celery, I think it’s because I’m, let’s face it, a bit too mean with the watering on my plot. I would love to grow it again as the flavour of home grown is spectacular in comparison to anything that is shop bought.

  • This is fascinating. I’ve never heard of them before. Looking at the vegetable, I was reminded of the brain. I’ll look around to see if we have any here.

    • It does look like a brain doesn’t it, I couldn’t find the words when I originally wrote this post, so appreciate it all the more that I now have the word to describe what it looks like.
      The flavour is quite mild – celery like, and is good mashed or in a gratin style dish, but I think I prefer it raw as a salad

  • I do have some in the garden, but it is a perennial, surely its roots are too OLD!? and it comes back up every spring, though will be knocked back by a frost, is this the same stuff?. I have never dug the roots up to eat because i am not sure.. I have regular celery too.. I reallly want to try this but I think I have a different plant.. mine will grow to five feet tall!, what do you think?.. c

    • Hmmmm mystery mutant relative of the celeriac growing in Celia’s kitchen garden? Do you have any photos or can you describe the leaves? I added a photo of the celeriac I saw growing at Gt Dixter to this post – of course they were growing in perfect rows, and as it’s a winter veg I presume it can withstand most that winter can throw at it.
      I reckon you should dig the mutant monster up and do show and tell 🙂

      • when it grows i will take some shots for you, it is like a weed but I did grow it from seed as celeriac. It is taller than me with light green leaves that look and taste like a very strong celery, I cut the new growth for salads and stock.. but it always outgrows me.. the stalks are like chalk on the inside… well you will see, unless it reallly does mutate and EATS me! c

        • I had no idea it could get so high – I have a picture in my head of this mutant being living and breathing under the earth, growing and growing and growing….. ok enough of the sci-fi !
          I have some celery herb seeds to try as well, you can use the leaves in salads too. Just need to get around to sowing the sodding things, it’s still way too cold here!

  • Makes delicious soup and if it’s become fashionable it explains why it is one of the recipe pages that’s frequently visited.
    Not too difficult to grow, but it need a long growing season and is usually slow to germinate. Needs a rich soil too, but well drained and it need plenty of water – lots of contradictions which is probably why some gardeners find it difficult.

    • “contradictions” I think sums it up – I read that it need an open site in sun – and yet to be kept moist that’s a challenge as well as a contradiction!

  • I really lie celeriac but don’t eat if very often. Bad chica! Hope you have more luck next time with growing it and I love the recipes here …mmmmm 🙂

    • yes an Iris – growing by the pond. I literally chucked in a load of bulbs very late autumn – a real slap-dash affair, and it appears some of them have forgiven my shoddy gardening tactics and emerged 🙂

  • You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever had celeriac, Claire! You’ve certainly given me good reasons to try. I’ll have to pay closer attention at the produce store because I must completely overlook it. The salad looks wonderful to me and I really like the remoulade! I love trying something completely new from the veggie world. 🙂

    • Oh there are so may veggies I’ve yet to try Debra, particularly when I visit London and look at the wonderful colours, shapes and sizes of the veggies in the shops and markets – many of which I haven’t the faintest idea about. So much to learn and try ! Wishing you a super week !

  • Oh your remoulade sounds delightful Claire! I need to try this! And, as the adage goes, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, and (no surprise to those of us who follow you) you’ve managed to capture the Beauty of the once-deemed-ugly bulb! Not ugly at all!

    • “beauty’s in the eye of the beholder” it is isn’t it Antoinette, and thank you so much for your kind words my friend, thank you!

  • I love celeriac remoulade and enjoy it in so many restaurants in France, Austria and Germany. It is very expensive in my market…$7.00 for a bulb so I don’t use it.

    • I just did a conversion at got £4.60 – wow that is a lot of money Karen! I’ll admit a little goes a long way, but even so that seems very steep! Maybe there aren’t many growers where you are and so that pushes the prices up? Oh well, at least you get to enjoy it on your trips to Europe ! Hope you have a great week

    • You are very welcome Cindy, it’s milder than celery and is great mashed – I sometimes make a potato-celeriac mash – delicious with lots of butter 🙂 I hope the spring is on its way soon to you !

  • More than anything I love the way this pretty uneaten vegetable/root looks. The gnarly very organic look is quite otherworldly. I have added it matchsticked to salads but have never really cooked with it. Great post Claire.

    • It’s nice with grated apple in a salad, but you are right Teresa, it does have an otherworldly look to it. Wishing you a lovely week ahead

  • Like you , I tried growing celeriac once and failed miserably. It looks like a vegetable that could take a bit of neglect – but from what you say, it sounds like it needs a bit of cosseting. Maybe I should have another go, and this time look after it a bit better!

  • Thanks for brightening my cold gloomy morning with your beautiful iris. I start my celeriac indoor, takes about 10 days to germinate. They are actually quite easy to grow. I don’t give mine any special treatment, plant like any other vegs in the garden.

  • Oh, dear.. I haven’t grown much of anything… especially celeriac. I think it is the new craze.. it’s been popping up all over, must be some awfully good crunchy healthy goodness in that veggie, eh? I love your recipe.. perfect for spring:) xx

  • The new black.. oh no am I already out of season? I love your delicious remoulade on this salad. I have not seen this veggie in HK. I would think it would be easy to keep/sore as it is a root vegetable.

  • Hmm… I’ve never tried celeriac and I’m really not too fond of celery, but you just may have convinced me to give it a chance.

  • We’ve made roasted celeriac soup. Just lovely. It also tastes intriguing to roast fingers of them, for a side appetizer.

    • I like the sound of roasting “fingers” of them – thanks for that. The celeriac seeds have germinated, just another 6-9 months to wait and see if I can get to eat homegrown

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