Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum)
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Apium graveolens Rapaceum Group
Celeriac (Apium graveolens Rapaceum Group) (also known as ‘celery root,’ ‘turnip-rooted celery’ or ‘knob celery’) is a specially selected cultivar group of celery, grown as a root vegetable for its large and well-developed taproot rather than for its stem and leaves. The root is used when it is about 10-12 cm in diameter, or the size of a large potato. Celeriac may be used raw or cooked. It is best to peel celeriac before use, since the outer skin is tough and stringy. It has the flavor of celery, so it is often used as a flavoring in soups and stews; it can also be mashed or used in casseroles and baked dishes. The hollow stalk of the upper plant can be cut into drinking straw lengths, rinsed out, and used for tomato drinks such as the Bloody Mary. The tomato juice moving through the stalk is lightly permeated with the celery flavor. Nutritionally, celeriac is low in carbohydrates.
It is not as popular as other root vegetables, especially in the western hemisphere, very possibly because of its garish appearance before cleaning: it has been described as “a vegetable octopus” or “Rastafarian turnip” in reference to the tangle of rootlets that grow at the base.
There are numerous cultivars available, especially in Europe, where root vegetables are popular. Among the types are ‘Prinz’, ‘Diamant’, ‘Ibis’, and ‘Kojak’, which all received Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit designation in the year 2000 trials.
Celeriac keeps well and should last three to four months if stored between 0° and 5° C and if not allowed to dry out.