What is Celery Root?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Celery root, also called celeriac, is an edible root vegetable in the celery family. The stalks and leaves strongly resemble celery, although they are not very good to eat. The root itself is a lumpy tuber of unprepossessing appearance, although it packs an excellent taste and is used throughout European cuisine, especially in France. Celery root is beginning to be popular in the United States, with more cooks discovering its myriad uses.

Celery root.
Celery root.

In appearance, celery root resembles a misshapen turnip. It is brown and lumpy, and the brown outer skin should be washed and peeled before cooking. The root puts out shoots and leaves that look like celery, but since the plant has been bred to focus its growing energy on the root, these stalks tend not to be edible. By the time the celery root is harvested, the stalks are still fairly small, yet very woody because of their age. They should be trimmed and discarded.

Celery root should be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator.
Celery root should be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator.

When picking out celery root to eat, cooks should look for firm tubers without fleshy spots or discolorations. Smaller roots will taste better, while larger roots are woodier and more suitable for roasting or long stewing. In flavor, the root resembles a concentrated version of celery, with a spicy hint of parsley. Celery root can be used in any recipe that calls for celery, and a variety of others as well. It can be stored in the fridge in a brown paper bag with stems trimmed for approximately one week before use.

Celery stalk comes from the sames species of plant as celery root.
Celery stalk comes from the sames species of plant as celery root.

Celery root is superb roasted, added to gratins, or added to soups and stews. It can also be eaten raw in thin slices on salads and appetizers, and it adds a zesty crunch. If cooks can obtain the root during the summer, it makes a great chilled summer soup puree. Some cooks also mash roasted winter root vegetables together for an updated version of mashed potatoes with more flavor and zest.

Much like celery, its close cousin, growing celery root begins with starting seedlings approximately two months before the last expected frost. Gardeners can transplant the seedlings to a sunny, slightly acidic area of the garden in compost rich soil, planting tje, 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) apart. The roots should be kept covered as the plant grows, and the feeder roots should be periodically pruned. The root is ready for harvest when it is approximately baseball sized. It takes around 200 days to mature.

Celery root may be eaten raw as part of a salad.
Celery root may be eaten raw as part of a salad.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


It's not that confusing. Celery stalks and celery root are not derived from the same plant. However they are botanically closely related. I would not give it to someone who is allergic to celery. Not a doctor, but seems reasonable that if they are that closely related it's not a good idea.

As far as celery powder i think you're looking for something that does not exist. i frequently use celery salt which is celery seed ground up and added to salt. Omit any salt from the recipe and use the celery salt instead. The whole seeds will never dissolve in a broth and would make your dish grainy.


How do you cook celery root?


Now I'm more confused than ever. I found some Organic Celery root powder online. It says it is from Apium graviolens (which is celery), whereas this article says it's in the celery family, but not exactly celery. So which is it?

I'm looking for a celery powder to use in soup broths and other recipes and I've tried celery seed powder, but the seeds never fully dissolve.

That's why I'm looking for celery, just in powder form. In my search, I asked the person who had the celery root powder, whether it tasted like celery. They said yes, but not as strong tasting as the stalks.

Will someone let me know the real deal about whether or not celery root is in fact celery root, and not just some close celery relative?


Don't give her celery root! It is far more toxic than celery! It could cause the same and a *far worse* reaction! I didn't even know I was allergic to celery root when I ate it and a month later I am still getting over it.


My sister is allergic to celery. How close is celery root? Would it probably cause the same reaction?

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