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This Odd Fellow is Welcome Here

March 10, 2011

How often does it happen that an expensive and hard to find item becomes an easy to grow staple in the winter garden?  Not often in my experience.  Until we found out my DH was allergic to potatoes, I spent a lot of time growing celery for flavoring winter stews and comfort food dishes.  While I didn’t find it that hard to grow, I did find it hard to store in any fashion that even came close to crisp, fresh celery.  Celery and freezing weather just never became friends.  Somewhere along the line, celeriac became one of my go-to winter vegetables, and good stand in for potatoes.  Easy to grow, easy to store and delicious in more ways than one.

Brilliant celeriac – started March 2010, still harvesting March 2011.

The hardy leaves and stalks weather the weather well, lending their flavor to any winter dish calling for celery.

An ugly duckling for sure, once the bulb is washed and trimmed of its tangle of roots, you have a creamy, smooth mildly celery flavored root to add any vegetable dish.  Gratins, mashes and roasted vegetable medleys all benefit from the addition of celery root.

In my local, it stores well in the ground with my other root crops.  If you live in a colder clime, celeriac lends itself well to various root cellaring techniques.

Now is the time to start seeds for this gem.  Be patient though, they take some time to germinate and they grow ever so slowly.  Reserve a spot in the summer garden for these pups, and they will reward you in the winter.  Truly a slow food.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 1:40 am

    They look good. I once had a great veggie dish and asked the waitress what it was. Celeriac, she told me. It was the tastiest food I had ever eaten. Ah, she said, that’s the truffles.

    If you can find truffles up in the PNW then you might give it a try. I know they used to sell some in the Seattle farmers markets. The climate isn’t too far removed from SW France. 🙂

  2. March 10, 2011 3:53 am

    Thanks for all the information on that strange looking vegetable! 🙂

  3. March 10, 2011 3:54 am

    Thanks for this! I grew it for the first time last summer and it is pretty good, but I didn’t know much about it.

    • March 10, 2011 6:13 am

      TC, you’re welcome, celeriac has sure been a welcome addition here, and it’s pretty pest free too.

  4. Sheila Z permalink
    March 10, 2011 4:02 am

    I’d find it a tragedy to have a potato allergy. They are my favorite winter food! Is he allergic to the whole Solanaceae family? I have an acquaintance that is very allergic to eggplant and has to be very careful and eat only limited amounts of tomatoes and peppers.

    So far I’ve found I like the flavor of celeriac better than the texture. Maybe I need to cook it differently.

    • March 10, 2011 6:18 am

      SheilaZ, potatoes are the worst, with toms and peppers ok in small amounts. Less work for me, though because I don’t have to grow as many potatoes 🙂 Although I have to get more creative at meal time and keep our potatoes away from his food.

      Celeriac does definitely has its own texture, not like a potato really – but roasted or in a scalloped type dish it’s pretty good.

  5. Jani permalink
    March 10, 2011 4:28 am

    Hey Nita!

    Yet another great and informative post! Well, I don’t know your growing area but as you are interested in replacing potatoes.. I wonder if you have ever tried radishes? Fried up like hashbrowns, boiled and mashed- when they are cooked they are shockingly like potato. Same with cauliflower- but to that you need add precious dairy like cream cheese (aka kefir laban), sour cream or yogurt and butter so I gather that would be a special treat.

    I feed a diabetic so no potatoes around here either. These are low gi solutions I have found for Jimmy who is 85 and part of the “meat and potatoe or you have not had dinner” generation.


    • March 10, 2011 6:19 am

      Jani, good idea! I grow lots of radishes for myself – no one else really cares for them – but cooking them might be a different story 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  6. March 10, 2011 6:27 am

    Love the pictures on your blog! It is so helpful and inspirational. My husband and I are just embarking on our journey to movie out to the country to go off grid and become somewhat self sufficient. Keep up the great work!

  7. March 10, 2011 7:32 am

    Nice! I’m just starting my seeds indoors now, so I’ll have to keep a lookout for some celeriac to throw in the mix. 😉

    • March 11, 2011 5:15 am

      Michelle, growing celeriac is definitely a delayed gratification type of veggie, but sure worth the effort 🙂

  8. March 10, 2011 7:52 am

    I’ve never tried it, but I’d like to.

    • March 11, 2011 5:16 am

      Darrell, I have found it to not be all that fussy – and it sure adds something to winter meals.

  9. March 10, 2011 8:12 am

    Matron Thank you I have never tried it but look forward to finding some seed. B

  10. March 10, 2011 10:05 am

    I’ve seen it in stores but never had the opportunity to try it…..maybe I’ll try growing some this yar.

    • March 11, 2011 5:19 am

      Linda, for something that I hardly ever ate or bought, we sure have been going through a lot of it these past few winters. It’s slow though, you can grow a pig faster 😉

  11. Loretta permalink
    March 11, 2011 2:02 am

    I love celeriac, but have had mixed success growing it. I have limited space and found that if I buy plants (not that I really like doing it!)I can get a better crop.

    • March 11, 2011 5:20 am

      Loretta, it’s oh- so slow, I won’t be able to put these out until about the first of June, and they poke along all summer, it is a long term proposition for sure.

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