Celery & Celeriac 101: Buying, Storing and Cooking

Jan 23, 2013
Veronica Brandy

buying celery — cooking celeriac — storing celery pictures

What’s the difference between celery and celeriac?

Celery refers to green stalks and is rarely cooked alone, which is a shame because it can be wonderful: Its flavor and texture are mellow, making it mild but still unusually flavored. Celeriac — also known as celery root — is a big white root specifically grown from a different specie. Covered with smaller roots, it looks quite unique in the vegetable world. Its shape is often odd, bulbous and knotty. Its flavor is familiar but less strong when you cook it. Celeriac is often used grated raw in salads, but it’s also delicious boiled, sautéed, or roasted, and especially puréed and blended with mashed potatoes.

How to buy and store celery and celeriac

Celery should be crisp, bright pale green, and compact — look for celery with its leaves, because they are great used as aromatic herbs. Avoid wilted, or yellow celery leaves. Store celery stalk wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator crisper. Celery keeps for about 2 weeks before starting to dry.

For celeriac:Look for specimens that are firmer and heavier without any soft spots. Look also for a smooth skin. Don’t bother the dirt that still stick, you’ll wash it and peel the skin anyway. You can keep celery root for a long time, just be aware that its flavor is the most intense when it is firm fresh. Store wrapped loosely in a paper or plastic bag in your refrigerator.

How to prepare them

Trim the leaves from the celery (you can book them for a later use as a garnish), cut off the bottom core or take as many stalks as you need. Store the remaining stalks in the refrigerator. If you wish to substitute celery, use fennel as they share a few similarities.

Celeriac must be completely peeled; so use a sharp knife rather than a vegetable peeler. Like pumpkins, you will lose a good thickness of the pulp. If it takes a bit long between peeling and using celeriac in your recipe, the vegetable might experience some discoloring. To avoid this, soak it into acidulated water — with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice. Parsnip or turnips are good substitute for celeriac.

Best cooking methods:

  • Celery: raw, or go braising!
  • Celeriac: raw, boiling, sautéing, braising then glazing, and roasting.

 When is it done?

  • Celery: When good and tender; taste a piece.
  • Celeriac: like many of root vegetables, celeriac is great both roasted and pureed. It’s done when it’s soft; quite simple isn’t it? Go and check this celeriac soup!
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