Christmas is around the corner which we so look forward to in our household. It’s a special time for family and friends to come together and to take time out for some well deserved rest and recuperation.
The garden is fairly quiet at this time of the year for us, but we still have a few of our favourite veg to enjoy not least my most favourite of winter veg, celeriac. We always find room to grow a row every year and have had mixed success to be honest, but this year I think I may have found the secret to growing decent size celeriac.
I start my celeriac seeds off in late may, early June in a seed tray when any sign of frost has past. The seeds are tiny so a packet of seeds will go a long way, so sprinkle the seeds thinly on the surface of the compost and firm with a tamper. Best not to water from the top or you’ll likely wash the seeds away.
I stand my seed tray in second tray of water to allow the compost to soak up the water from beneath. As soon as I see water appearing on the top of the compost I lift the tray out and stand on the seed bench.
The seed are slow to grow away but don’t give up on them as they will eventually appear after about 3-4 weeks. When they are large enough to handle I prick out my celeriac plants into 3 inch pots a celeriac have a fairly robust but fine root system and need plenty of room to grow.
It’s important to keep them well watered as celeriac hate dry conditions. In the mean time prepare the soil where you plan to plant with a good helping of compost or well rotted farmyard manure.
They are hungry feeders and prefer to have the roots in damp soil, so don’t skimp when preparing the ground. I plant the young celeriac plant about 10-12 inches apart in mid July and that’s about it until late September. As soon as the base starts to swell I add a little comfrey to a watering can every other week.
I mentioned earlier I discovered a secret to growing decent size celeriac this year, well here it is. By the way feel free to pass it on as I’m sure this made a difference.
At the beginning of November while I was weeding around the plants I thought the soil was looking a little tired, so I added a couple of inches of compost as a mulch around the base of each plant.
If you think about it I guess it had to make a difference as the roots of the celeriac are all over the fruit, so makes sense to provide more growing medium for the plants to grow.
Not rocket science I know, but it seems to have made a difference to this years crop. It appears to have provided the celeriac with the perfect growing conditions as we lifted the first of this years harvest earlier today and as you can see they are a bad size at all!
Here are just a few of the recipes I use for cooking my Celeriac.
1.Celeriac and Cauliflower Mash
Really simple recipe and a great substitute for potato mash if you’re on a diet. John has been on a diet since October and has lost nearly two stone! … Much of which is down to removing potatoes from his diet … But more on that later. To cook your celeriac and cauliflower mash:
- Clean and peal your celeriac and chop into 1 inch cubes.
- Add to a pan of cold water and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 15 minutes until the celeriac is cooked through.
- After cooking the celeriac for around 8 minutes break off a few florets from a fresh cauliflower and add to the pan.
- Turn the heat back up to bring it back to a simmer and cook for a further 7-8 minutes until the celeriac and cauliflower are cooked through.
- Strain the water off, add a knob of butter and a teaspoon of cream to the veg.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Mash until smooth and serve.
One tip when your making this dish … Resist boiling the living daylights out of the celeriac and cauliflower or you’ll remove the delicate flavour. Simmer the veg gently and keep checking it.
2. Roast Whole Celeriac
To cook your celeriac and cauliflower mash:
- Wash and peel a medium size celeriac
- Take a grater and grate the sides up until the celeriac is a nest round shape.
- Slice off the bottom to leave a flat surface
- Heat an oven pan in the hob and add a little vegetable oil and a tablespoon of butter
- When the butter has melted add the celeriac and baste repeatedly with the butter and oil
- Sprinkle a little fresh thyme over the celeriac, a generous shake of smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
- Place in the oven for around 35 minutes until the celeriac is tender. You can tell when the celeriac is cooked by sticking a long needle into the centre. If the needles slides in easily the celeriac is cooked.
- Slice into chunks and serve with roast pork or poultry. Alternatively serve as a main with roast sweet potato and fresh green beans.
3. Baked Celeriac
This recipe came from watching Ruth Mott one Christmas when the children were small.
- Prepare your celeriac as before and slice into half inch thick slices.
- Place the slices in an oven proof dish and cover with a basic white sauce made from plain flour, butter and milk. Make sure the celeriac is covered completely.
- Season with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Grate some good quality cheddar and sprinkle over the top of the dish.
- Cook in a moderately to oven for around 25 minutes until the celeriac is cooked through
- Remove from the oven and add some salt and vinegar flavour crisps to the top and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Remove and serve.
These are the three recipes I use most for my celeriac but have been known to boil a whole celeriac and while warm cut into small slices for a celeriac salad dressed with warm grain mustard dressing.
If you’ve never grown celeriac before I urge you to have a go as the deep nutty celery flavour is a taste of Christmas that you’ll come back to year after year! 🙂