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Celeriac is a cool season crop that is slow to mature, taking anywhere from 3-4 months. It has a spherical white root that emerges just above the soil with thin celery-like stalks that are sparse and leafy. After harvest, those plants left in the field will go to seed, producing delicate lacy clusters of white or pale yellow blossoms. The flower's shape is known as an umbel, a structure of multiple stems radiating from a single point with tiny blossoms at the ends. Celeriac flowers have a mild celery aroma and a more concentrated flavor of celery, parsley and turnip. Some of the more mature flowers develop a peppery note as the seeds ripen.
Celeriac flowers are available in winter and early summer.
Celeriac is botanically named Apium graveolens rapaceum and commonly referred to as celery root, turnip-rooted celery and knob celery. It is closely related to common celery, but has been selectively bred for its bulbous root rather than stalk. Celeriac is a biennial and will produce its edible flowers in the second season of growth. As a member of the Apiaceae family, its flowers have the same characteristic umbel shape as carrot, fennel, dill, coriander, caraway and parsley. Celeriac flowers have a similar flavor and aroma to those of common celery and may be used interchangeably.
Celeriac flowers are most often used as a garnish due to their decorative lacy structure, but they may also be used to add flavor. They are delicate and do not stand up to heat, and are best used raw to finish a dish. Use the blossoms to accentuate the flavor of a mirepoix, celery root remoulade, compound butter or a Bloody Mary. Celeriac flowers compliment lemon, potato, mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, tarragon, chive, seafood and chicken.
The exact origin of celeriac is vague, with history throughout temperate regions of Asia, Europe and Africa. Celeriac grows best in cool weather, reaching maturity in either late spring or fall depending upon climate. The flowers will develop in the weeks to follow. Celeriac should be planted in areas of full sun with moisture rich soils that have adequate drainage.