Celeriac – Juuriselleri
The celery group of vegetables belong to the same family of plants as for example fennel, parsnips, parsley, dill and chervil. This helps us to understand this interesting vegetable that is divided into three distinct crops, robust root celery or celeriac (var. rapaceum), the strong fibrous stem celery (var. dulce) and the comparatively dainty leaf celery (var. secalinum). All have the same familiar fresh flavor that is mild yet strong and sweet yet bitter. It’s a flavor that grows on you, more so when you hear that celery is known as one of the heathiest snacks available.
Celery is described rather unscientifically as having ´negative calories`, suggesting that you use more calories to digest it than you get from it, while at the same time benefiting from high fiber, mineral and vitamin intake. Even the root is rare in being non starchy, meaning all celeries can be an ideal part of a heathy or slimmer´s diet.
Growing celery, especially root celery is not so easy and for a small vegetable it takes a long time to grow. Celeriac and stem celery will need between 100 to 120 days to grow fully. It needs a sunny fertile well drained yet moist location and being slow growing is unable to compete with weeds. Root celery may be helped adding additional fertilizer during the growing season and by removing lower leaves and upper roots as it grows, allowing the root to expand (or appear to do so).
The whole celery plant is edible, the stems and leaves of celeriac are tougher and far less tender than the stems on stem celery that then has leaves that are much courser than those of leaf celery. So ´horses for courses` and grow and use the best celery to suit your needs.
Good quality celery is associated with correct size, crispy freshness and good flavor. Because of the long season required Finnish grown celery can often be undersized. They are all susceptible to wilting and must be kept moist and cold after harvesting, the leaves of root and stem celery are best removed using a sharp knife at harvest to help reduce the wilting. If stored correctly celery will keep for several weeks.