native to: Europe
in season here: winter
Celeriac, celery root, knob celery, soup celery, or turnip-rooted celery is a member of the Apiaceae or carrot family and is closely related to the more familiar leaf celery. While the stalks and leaves can be eaten — they’re rather tough and strong-flavored — it’s the root we’re after here. It can keep for months in the fridge as long as you don’t let it dry out, but freezing is not recommended. To use, pare it down to the smooth white flesh and pretend it’s a celery-flavored potato. It’s most commonly mashed with potatoes, but I like it scalloped (recipe will post 4 Nov.).
Celeriac is very low in calories and carbohydrates, and high in anti-oxidants and cancer-fighting compounds. It’s good against osteoporosis because of the vitamin K it provides, and studies suggest it limits neuronal damage in Alzheimer’s. It has some valuable B-complex vitamins and provides lots of minerals: phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, copper, and manganese.
It’s high in water-soluble fiber, making it a good choice if you have cholesterol concerns. It’s also good for the heart and nerves, and can be helpful against urinary problems. Like celery, however, it should only be eaten in moderation by pregnant women and sparingly by people on diuretics or anti-coagulants. If you’re allergic to birch or mugwort pollens, (or celery, of course) you may also react to celeriac.