< Vegetables



The bulbous rooted (or Turnip-Rooted as it was sometimes called) celery became a novelty vegetable in 19th-century America, a plant that marked one as an explorer in the kitchen garden and at the table. Its popularity spread during the middle decades of the century from Germany, its home, to France, and then to America.

One reason for its growing popularity was that it conveyed the taste of celery without the many difficulties attending the growing and blanching of regular celery. Hence, for a host of uses in stews and soups, it proved a more convenient, cheaper way to supply that fresh, distinctive celery note. As a root, it kept for months, while ordinary celery wilted, rotted, or dessicated within weeks of harvest. On the root bulb and leaves of celeriac were processed for food; stalks were discarded.

Like celery, celeriac was grown from seed planted in a hotbed. When seedlings attained several inches of height, they were transplanted into well manured garden beds when weather had warmed. Since the bulb grows at the surface of the ground, farmers did not need to deep trench the beds, as they did for celery. As the plant grows, cultivators remove all side suckers. German-American farmers who grew the plant liked to keep it wet, so ringed plants with dirt and filled the concavity wherein the bulb say with water frequently. When the bulbs had swollen to an expanse larger than a human fist, it was covered with dirt to blanch it. Ripe in October, they were frequently left in ground until frost threatened. When harvested the entire plant was pulled, stalk, leaves & root and covered with sand. This way it could last the winter.

In the United States Celeriac never became a market vegetable.[1] But it was so easily grown, home gardeners had no difficulty bringing it to maturity. Once someone had experienced both the flavor and the convenience of its cultivation, they became convinced converts. Seed was readily available in catalogues during the final decades of the century. Four varieties prevailed.

Celeriac was frequently soaked in clean water, peeled, sliced and eaten raw with vinegar or as an ingredient in a salad. The recipes collection other sorts of preparations.

1. Peter Henry Rolfs, Vegetable Growing in the South for Northern Markets (Richmond: Southern Planter, 1896), p. 85.

Common Celeriac    History

has leaves about 1 ft.long, spreading, and dark green, stalks hollow, root irregular, globular, growing nearly entirely in the ground, gray-brown outside,top large,flesh white, tender, of first quality, medium precocity, requires protecting against severe weather. This variety is that most generally known.

Erfurt Celeriac    History

This has leaves from 12 in.to 15 in.in height, erect, not so numerous as those of the common kind, dark green, Btalks hollow, tinted with purple, rootl half above ground, more regular than that just alluded to, frequently angular, and conical in shape above ground, brown outside, fleah white, tender, sometimes woolly if the growth has been impeded ; much earlier than the preceding, more delicate and not so hardy, bat well worth attention.

Celeriac Salad (Murrey’s Salads and Sauces 1884)    History

Celeriac is considered superior to celery by many; it may be used in salads either raw or boiled. If raw, cut into very thin slices and serve with sauce remoulade; if cooked, put into a salad-bowl a head of bleached chicory, add the celeriac and a teaspoonful of minced salad-herbs, pour over the salad a plain dressing. Cut celeriac into thin slices and soak it a few hours in vinegar; mix with potato or other vegetable salads, or serve as a relish. Stewed a la creme it is a most excellent vegetable. Thomas Jefferson Murrey, Salads and Sauces (New York: Charles Dillingham, 1880), p. 80.

Boiled Celeriac (The American Housewife & Kitchen Directory 1869)    History

This is an excellent vegetable, but is little known. The stalks of it can hardly be distinguished from celery, and it is much easier cultivated. The roots are nice boiled tender, cut in thin slices, and put in soup or meat pies ; or cooked in the following manner, and eaten with meat. Scrape and cut them in slices. Boil them till very tender—then drain off the water. Sprinkle a little salt over them—turn in milk enough to cover them. When they have stewed about four or five minutes, turn them into a dish, and add a little butter. Anon., The American Housewife and Kitchen Directory (New York: Dick & Fitzgerald, 1869), p. 45.

Fried Celeriac Villeroi (Harder’s Practical American Cookery 1885)    History

Pare and then wash six Celeriac roots in cold water and cut them in quarters. Take off the hard part, trim them in scallops, parboil them for 15 minutes, and drain them. Then put them in a flat saucepan lined with slices of fat pork and moisten them with white broth. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a pinch of sugar. Then cover them with thin slices of fat pork, put them on the fire and let them cook slowly. When cooked take out the Celeriac and dry them on a napkin. Then strain the gravy in another saucepan and add four spoonfuls of Allemande sance. Reduce it on a brisk fire and when cool dip the Celeriac in the sauce. Then arrange them in a pan and set them in a cool place, and when they are cold and the sauce adheres to the Celeriac, bread them in fresh bread crumbs. Then dip them in beaten eggs and bread them again. Fry them in hot lard and serve on a dish having a puree of Celeriac in the center. Jules Arthur Harder, Physiology of Taste; or, Harder’s Practical American Cookery (San Francisco: Jules Harder, 1885), p. 95.

Celeriac Puree for Garniture (Harder’s Practical American Cookery 1885)    History

Prepare the Celeriac the same as No. 438. When the Celeriac is cooked strain and remove the gravy, then add four spoonfuls of Cream or Allemande sauce. Rub it all through a fine sieve and put it back in the saucepan. Then add a glass of cream to reduce it to its consistency. Before serving add a piece of butter and a few drops of meat glaze. Jules Arthur Harder, Physiology of Taste; or, Harder’s Practical American Cookery (San Francisco: Jules Harder, 1885),, p. 95.