What Is Celeriac And What Does It Taste Like?

The average person knows all about celery, but what about celeriac? Once deemed "the vegetable world's ugly duckling" by NPR, celeriac is also known as celery root, turnip-rooted celery, and knob celery. It has a storied history — according to NPR, the first mention of celeriac can be traced to Homer's Odyssey way back in 800 BCE! Celeriac is technically grown from the same plant as celery, but as The Kitchn notes, celery is cultivated for its stalks, while celeriac is cultivated for its root. Think of it as celery's bulbous, bumpy cousin.

Though celeriac doesn't look or feel at all like the more well-known celery stalk, the two have a fairly similar flavor. MyRecipes compares it to a turnip with "a hint of celery-like freshness," and The Cookful describes it as "celery mixed with parsley." Basically, it's earthier and nuttier than celery, but still contains the essence of celery's unique flavor.

Preparing and cooking celeriac

According to Great British Chefs, celeriac can be eaten raw or cooked, but the most important step is peeling it well. Peeling celeriac removes the tough, gnarled outer layer to reveal its inner white flesh. Great British Chefs breaks down the best way to peel celeriac without losing too much flesh: simply cut off the ends and use a sharp knife to slice off the rough outer layer until you're left with what's underneath. Like apples that have been cut, peeled celeriac tends to get dark and discolored over time. To prevent this, the outlet recommends storing cut celeriac in a bowl of water with a little lemon or vinegar in it until you're ready to cook.

Though celeriac can look as strange as a mandrake from Harry Potter, you can treat it just like any other root vegetable. One classic way to prepare celeriac is celeriac rémoulade, a simple salad made from shredded raw celeriac, mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice (via BBC Good Food); but the possibilities are endless! Epicurious recommends transforming celeriac into bisque, mashing the root vegetable with potatoes, puréeing it and serving it with spiced pork, and even making celeriac latkes.

The next time you're at the grocery store, don't ignore that bumpy, odd-looking root known as celeriac — it could become your new favorite vegetable.