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Celeriac Is The Ugly Duckling Of The Vegetable World

  Two fresh celery on wooden table Recently we were given some celeriac by a friend who had grown it in her veggie garden. We peeled and cooked it before mashing with some butter and soy sauce and serving. With its hint of celery and subtle nutty taste, it was delicious. It was the first time we had ever tasted it but certainly won't be the last.

What is celeriac?

Celeriac, also called turnip-rooted celery or knob celery, is a variety of celery cultivated mainly for its edible round and knobbly hypocotyl and harvested when the same is a few inches in diameter. The hypocotyl (short for "hypocotyledonous stem" meaning "below seed leaf") is the stem of a germinating seedling, found below the cotyledons (seed leaves) and above the radicle (root). It is edible raw or cooked and may be roasted, stewed, blanched or mashed. The shelf live of celeriac is approximately three to four months if stored between 0°C (32°F) and 5°C (41°F) and not allowed to dry out.

Unlike many root vegetables, celeriac contains little starch - just 5–6% by weight

Celeriac along with all other types of vegetables has its own set of health benefits. We are all being encouraged to eat as many fresh veggies and fruit as possible. Celeriac is yet another variety to add to the list.

Here are 7 of those health benefits

1. It is a very good source of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium besides containing vitamins B1, B2 and E. 2. Helpful in treating kidney diseases. 3. Regulates bowl movements to avoid constipation and the hemorroids and anal fissures that can occur as a result. 4. Celeriac also helps with weight loss by activating our metabolism. 5. It helps to make our skin and hair healthier. 6. It relaxes any nerves while relieving stress. 7. It acts as an expectorate when we have a cold - in much the same way as ginger, lemon, mint and other herbs do.

How to buy, to prepare, to store and to serve

Celeriac is available year round but is at its best from September to April (Northern hemisphere). When shopping, choose a firm root that feels heavy for its size while avoiding any that are discolored. Using a sharp knife, top and tail the celeriac before using a potato peeler to remove the rhino-tough skin. You can expect to discard about a quarter of the celeriac by the time you've done this.   Store this veggie in the salad drawer of your fridge before use. As celeriac discolors 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. Celeriac boils in roughly twenty minutes and roasts in around forty minutes when cut into rough-shaped chunks. Serve in the company of other winter roots such as carrots and parsnips or add to your cooked potato when mashing. Try celeriac au gratin for a change or experiment with adding different flavors such as chili, garlic, herbs, even lemon zest. A creamy celeriac puree or mash served with fish is a delicious combination or make a smooth soup with leeks. The different ways you can use celeriac are endless - raw and julienned (cut into fine matchsticks) in a salad or with fruits such as apple and orange for a winter savory salad. Whatever you do, don't ignore this ugly duckling of the vegetable world.