What Is Celeriac (Celery Root)?
Celeriac is a root vegetable that has been gaining prominence in the past couple of years. It is very nutritious, high in fiber, and can easily fit into virtually any diet.
Contrary to its “celery root” nickname, celeriac is not the root of celery stalk. The stalks emerging from the root are inedible. Celeriac is in the carrot family and is a cousin of celery, parsley, and parsnip. Its scientific name is Apium graveolens var. rapaceum, while it is also called “turnip-rooted celery” or “knob celery.”
Celery root resembles gingerroot. The knobby, brown surface covers a smooth white flesh similar to potato, while small roots are found throughout the body. As mentioned, stalks resembling celery shoot out from the top.
The vegetable generally weighs between one and two pounds (450 to 900 grams) and can grow to four or five inches tall (10 to 13 centimeters).
It is a common food in eastern and northern Europe, and is used in salads, soups, casseroles, and stew. Celery root can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways.
Celeriac root is a nutrient-dense food that is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients can all contribute to a healthy diet, and may help reduce the risk for certain ailments.
A 3.5-ounce (100 gram) serving of celeriac provides:
|Nutrient||Raw Celeriac||Boiled Celeriac|
|Carbohydrate||9.2 g||5.9 g|
|Fiber||1.8 g||1.2 g|
|Vitamin C||13% DV||6% DV|
|Vitamin B6||8% DV||5% DV|
|Vitamin K||51% DV||Unknown|
|Phosphorus||12% DV||7% DV|
|Potassium||9% DV||5% DV|
|Manganese||8% DV||5% DV|
As with other foods, cooking celeriac can result in vitamin loss. Steaming is generally the most effective method of cooking to minimize any loss in nutrients.
3 Celeriac (Celery Root) Benefits
Thanks to its generous supply of nutrients, celery root may offer an array of health benefits.
1. May Contribute to Healthy, Strong Bones
Vitamin K and phosphorus are both important nutrients for bone health.
Celeriac is a great source of vitamin K. There is research indicating that high vitamin K intake may lower the risk of bone fractures. It helps strengthen bones by aiding calcium absorption and retention.
Phosphorus also plays a role in bone strength. Studies have shown that people who eat more phosphorus are less likely to get osteoporosis than those who eat less.
2. May Positively Affect Glucose Metabolism
Type 2 diabetes is a global epidemic that is likely promoted by a high-sugar diet and inactivity. Processed foods are a major source of dietary sugars even when they don’t taste sweet. Eating a diet full of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables like celeriac may help reduce the risk of—or prevent—type 2 diabetes.
A 2012 study of more than 16,000 participants found that people who ate the most root vegetables had a 13% lower risk of diabetes than those who ate the least.
These results are promising, but more work on celeriac is needed. That said, eating more fruits and vegetables is known to thwart the risk of diabetes.
3. May Promote Heart Health
Celery root can easily fit into a heart-healthy diet.
Vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium can all promote heart health in unique ways.
Vitamin C may help reduce inflammation to lower blood pressure and make for easier blood flow through arteries.
Potassium may help regulate blood pressure, while higher intake is linked to lower stroke risk.
Vitamin K helps keep calcium in bones, meaning it can limit calcium buildup in the blood. Too much calcium buildup in the bloodstream may be a contributing factor to atherosclerosis.
Fiber is also associated with a lower risk for high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and heart disease.
How to Use Celeriac (Celery Root)
Celeriac is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked to add texture or flavor to meals. Its taste is reminiscent of celery, and the fresher it is, the stronger the flavor.
Selecting Celery Root:
When you head to the grocery store to buy celery root, here’s what to look for:
- Size: Pick one that is medium-sized (four to five inches or eight to 10 centimeters in diameter).
- Texture: Select celeriac that is smooth.
- Color: Avoid picking celery root with discoloration.
- Weight: If it feels hollow, it is likely poor quality. Choose one that feels solid.
Storing Celery Root:
Put your celery root in a plastic bag before placing in your refrigerator crisper. This will give it the longest life (roughly three to five days).
Preparing Celery Root:
When prepping celery root for cooking:
- Cut off stalks and base
- Wash and scrub before cooking
- Peel skin
- Chop flesh
- Place slices in cold water with white vinegar or lemon slices (because celeriac becomes discolored very quickly)
Eating Celery Root:
You can add raw celery root to a salad for some crunch or add cooked celeriac to a casserole or soup for texture.
If boiling or roasting it, cut into one- to two-inch chunks. Boiling takes about 20 minutes, and you’re looking at about 40 minutes to roast.
You can use celery root in:
- Coleslaws and salads (raw slices or grated)
- Boiled and mashed as an alternative to potatoes
- Roasted or baked, like potatoes
- Cooked and blended for soups, sauces, or casseroles
Celery Root Recipe
Here is a flavorful celery root recipe featuring braised chicken breast and garlic:
Chicken Breast with Celery Root and Garlic
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 3 lbs free-range chicken breasts (bone-in and skin-on)
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled with cloves separated
- 1 celery root, peeled and cubed
- 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- Salt and pepper chicken breasts to taste. In a heavy braising pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Sear the chicken, beginning skin side down, for eight to 10 minutes (turn over once half-way through).
- Plate chicken and remove oil from pan, saving one tablespoon for cooking.
- Add butter to pan and heat over medium-high heat. When foam burns off, add in garlic and celery root. Sauté for five minutes, stirring frequently. Allow celery root to brown.
- Pour in broth and thyme to help loosen up any caramelized residue, boiling for one minute.
- Return chicken, skin sides up, to pan. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through (15 to 20 minutes).
- Transfer cooked pieces to a large serving bowl and loosely cover to keep warm.
- When the last batch of chicken is cooked, transfer with veggies and sauce into bowl. Discard thyme.
Brown, M., “What Is Celeriac? A Root Vegetable With Surprising Benefits,” Healthline, December 11, 2018; https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/celeriac#nutrition, last accessed November 4, 2020.
Ware, M., “What are the health benefits of celeriac?” Medical News Today, November 1, 2019; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320374, last accessed November 4, 2020.
“Braised Chicken with Celery Root and Garlic,” Epicurious; https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/braised-chicken-with-celery-root-and-garlic-231183, last accessed November 4, 2020.