In the world of “somewhat obscure” vegetables we grow, this alien looking thing is definitely one of them! If you haven’t grown it before, you’ve probably at least heard of it and might have wondered what it’s all about.
This is celeriac. As you might gather from the name, it’s definitely related to celery. It’s slightly different, though, in that it’s been bred to produce a large, bulbous root. In fact, this is our harvest for this plant, the thick mass below the (former) stem and above the actual roots.
One of the reasons many gardeners steer clear of the more obscure veggies like this is that many just aren’t familiar with how to cook it. Celeriac is an excellent addition into stocks, broths, soups and stews of course. But, it’s also an excellent raw addition to salads, providing a mild earthy celery flavor with a crisp crunch. (If you like radish and parsnip, it’d be right up your alley.) You can also make them into fries like potatoes and you can also cook them along with potatoes for an excellent celery/potato mash.
We do struggle a bit to get the “giant” celeriac bulbs you sometimes see at the grocery. Like celery, it’s an exceptionally slow growing plant with a very long season. Also, we do grow them in our raised beds, which do limit the size a fair bit. We’d probably get better performance growing them in ground with heavier fertilization tactics. But, honestly, we don’t really need or use a ton of celeriac, so what we get from a dozen plants is fully suitable for us.
So, if you’ve ever been curious about “celery root” or just what celeriac is all about, this is the deal with them. For us, we’ve grown rather fond of having them in our garden and so we raise a few along with our celery!