Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Crunch time

Celery. To some it's pointless, others miraculous.

My greengrocer was jumping for joy when I bought a stick the other week, leaves on and all. In her slightly Italian accent she insisted a stick of celery every day would sort you out. Who am I to doubt?

As it happens I love the stuff. But this post isn't about the best thing for peanut butter since flapjacks. This is about celeriac. Fashionable, flavoursome and Fearnley-Whittingstall's favourite, this step-sister to celery is something I unsuccessfully attempted to grow last year, mainly because I planted it too late.

This year I planted it early, failed to mark the pot and subsequently forgot about it. Yes that's right, I just left it out there in the garden on the table among plenty of other pots.

The other week, I was lucky enough to meet Sophie (@tastebudsgarden) who braved my wreck of a garden and took a sneaky peek.  Whilst out there I realised I didn't know what was growing in the pot, and thinking it might be something like coriander, I picked a leaf.

And to my surprise, the pungent signature of celery was on my fingertips. Sophie happily picked and ate the leaf. Eh? You can do that? They don't sell you the leaves in the supermarket. I took her word that I wouldn't keel over after nibbling a leaf and well, yes, it tasted at first of celery. That was before it started to taste bitter. Sophie explained that it could easily be used in cooking just like normal celery. Except of course it's not celery and it's not, as I understand, directly related to celery either.

So, why celeriac? I wanted to grow it because it just tastes superb. I've not had it for so long it's hard to describe but there's something about it that hits the g-spot between sweet and savoury. A place words just can't describe. So I keep being told.

It also looks wonderfully weird and could be something to be proud of growing when dicing up for a christmas stuffing.

But, alas, mine are but tiny wee things in a pot with no space to grow.

So, gardeners, I need your advice:

- Is it too late to carry them from their cosy pot to a grown up bed?
- If I stir them will they be irreparably damaged?
- If I leave them, will I get tasty mini 'leriacs?
- Should I just make do with the leaves?


Jacqui@FrenchVillageDiaries said...

Hello Tom, found you via my friend Jilly. I too love gardening, esp veggies and ESP courgettes! I get quite good yields, but have loads of weeds and disasters too, so I think we will get on well. I too am growing celariac this year (first time so I may not be able to give too much advice). As it can stay in the soil over autumn/winter why not try moving at least some of them - it will give the ones you don't move a bit more space even if they don't work. I would also use the leaves and stems as they do taste great in stews and caseroles. I haven't yet dug one of mine up, so have no idea what is going on under the soil, but I am using the leaves and stalks. Good luck and happy gardening!

Hapless gardener said...

Hi Jacqui, I'm sorry its taken so long for me to get back to you. Thank you for the celeriac advice, I've finally found time to take it and totally agree the best thing is to just try, see and learn it. Thank you for the comment and hope you enjoy reading the rest of the blog

The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.