At first sight, Celeriac (AKA Celery Root) is a homely oddball. If you're not quite sure what it looks like, how to use it or even how to pronounce it correctly (sell-air-ee-ak), you're not alone. This old-world root vegetable is a coveted staple in France and the Netherlands, yet is virtually unknown in the U.S. That is where we come in with Diamant Celeriac, the best-of-the-best Celeriacs. It is a wonderful variety that we get from one of our Dutch breeders. It's a vigorous grower with nice green tops, large bulbs, an exceedingly long storage life and fabulous taste and texture. We are determined to start an American love affair with this heavenly, versatile root vegetable.
A Beastly Exterior Cloaks a Snow-White Beauty
Looks aren't everything, but Diamant's appearance can be quite off-putting. It has leaves and stems like Celery, however the business part of this vegetable forms right at the soil level and looks like a gnarly, flesh-toned Turnip having a really bad hair day. But beneath Diamant's rough exterior lies beauty and deliciousness. Its creamy-white interior has a toothsome, dense texture and delicate Celery-like flavor. If you have ever tried to find Celeriac at the grocery store or even at a farmer's market, you may have discovered that just one Celeriac bulb can command a price of $7 or more! Growing Diamant in your own garden means you can eat as much if it as you want, as often as you’d like. And, since the bulbs can easily be stored for six months or more, you'll have it on hand for a really long time.
Grow Your Own Celeriac from Seed
Growing Celeriac from seed is easy as long as you get a really good head start~plants need 120 days to mature. Sow the seed in moist seed starting mix indoors under lights or in a greenhouse ten to twelve weeks before settling them into their new home in the garden, a good two weeks after your Spring Frost-Free Date.
Sow the seed shallowly in moist seed starting mix and pamper the seedlings with a little spa treatment: strong light, warmth (65 to 75 degrees F), healthy air circulation and even moisture. Before transplanting your little Celeriac seedlings into the garden, harden them off by putting them outdoors in a sheltered location for a few hours each day and bringing them in at night. Do this for a week to 10 days, gradually lengthening the time outdoors. This will help them to avoid transplant shock and to thrive. No matter how warm you think it may be, hold off transplanting them until two weeks after your spring Frost-Free Date, when night time temperatures are reliably above 55 degrees F. Although Celeriac may seem like a cold weather crop because it is harvested later in the season and used over the winter, Celeriac seedlings need consistent warmth to develop properly and to yield the really big, hefty shot put-like bulbs.
Celeriac needs all-day sun and warmth. Plant the seedlings in fertile, well-draining soil, to which you have added compost, well-rotted manure and/or slow-release organic fertilizer. Celeriac has a ravenous appetite and non-stop thirst. Apply a 2" layer of mulch to help conserve moisture, and water amply and regularly.
Celeriac can stay put in the garden until sometime in the fall when a serious killing night frost threatens. Gently lift the bulbs out of the soil and trim off the stems on top, but don't remove any of the straggly roots. Brush off the loose soil, or dunk the bulbs in a pail of cold water to lightly clean them. Store the weighty bulbs at about 35 degrees F and 95% to 98% humidity. If you have room in your refrigerator, put the bulbs in zip-top plastic bags and hide them away on a back shelf. You can steal chunks of Celeriac whenever you want to, sticking the rest of the bulb back in the fridge. You can also store Celeriac by layering bulbs in a plastic bin or bucket and fully covering them with moist sand. Store them as close to freezing as possible, in a cold garage, basement or root cellar.
A Humble Nutritious Root with Gourmet Potential
To get at Celeriac's delicious interior, you need to remove its bumpy exterior with a good, sharp knife~a vegetable peeler simply isn't up to the job. Slice off about a quarter inch all around until you have a dense, creamy white globe.To help preserve Celeriac's creamy-whiteness, you can lightly douse it in lemon juice like you would an apple.
Celeriac is one of the most wonderful vegetables to stockpile for the winter. It's low in starch (a present for those of us watching carb intake) and high in fiber, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamins C and B6. You can enjoy it boiled and mashed in Mashed Celeriac Potatoes or Garlic Mashed Cauliflower and Celeriac. It is equally delicious added to potato gratins for a lighter, bright taste. Buttery Celeriac Cutlets will become one of your family's special favorites as it is ours. Cubed Celeriac is terrific in a Roasted Vegetable Mélange or incorporated into winter stews and soups, like Barbara Damrosch's soul-satisfying Leek and Potato Soup. Raw Celeriac is nice shredded in tossed salads or in jazzed coleslaws. In Paris, every local bistro offers a their own signature Celeriac 'rémoulade'. In essence, raw Celeriac is cut into matchsticks, and slathered with a piquant mustard-mayonnaise dressing.