We Can Phickle That! Pickled Dilly Lemon Celeriac
Have I mentioned that fall is far and away my favorite time to hit the farmers’ market? Abundance is at a peak, prices fall, and the things there are to eat in the fall are my favorite things to eat. I adore all root vegetables, lettuces and greens are my very favorite friends and apples, oh apples. I could eat you all day long. I will eat you all day long.
One of the aforementioned root vegetables that I think does NOT get enough love is celeriac. The part of celeriac we eat is actually a hypocotyl, but we don’t stand on ceremony around here. I’ll stay with the non-technical and totally incorrect name for the sake of actually communicating what I intend to communicate: celery root. Celeriac is rich in lots of wonderful vitamins and minerals, relatively low in sugars compared to other root vegetables, and compared to it’s stalked counterpart, it ferments remarkably well. It is not a beautiful vegetable, unless you go in for wabi-sabi stuff (I do, personally), but its round little body and tuft of celery hair make it lovable all the same.
I’ve tried fermenting celery stalks a few times and I haven’t loved those pickles a ton. It’s not surprising: celery stalks are all water and fibrous threads. Water is shed during osmosis and the threads can just be unpleasant without that celery crunch to back them up. Celeriac does well, though, and it gives you some of that lovely celery taste as well.
I was lucky enough to have my dill come back after an attack by swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. I was not pleased. I mean, they’re pretty and everything, but UGH! Stop eating my herbs, guy. I’m actually pretty pleased that the herbs came back because that means gorgeous butterflies and herbunandance. Anyway, since I had dill, and it’s pretty much time to dismantle my summer garden, I thought I’d use the last of it. Thanks, butterflies. You made my pickles delicious.
Since I was able to find organic lemons again after a long and disturbing hiatus (sorry, locavores, I need my lemons)
Yields approximate one quart of pickles
The texture of this pickle is kind of special. Definitely not crispy and a little chewy. If you’re a texture person, it can be a bit of a disconnect when you first taste it. However, I think the complexity of the celeriac flavor more than compensates for the lack of chewiness. I’ve personally grown to enjoy the texture. I also think it would make an excellent appetizer base. Pro-tip: I think they’re absolute stunners without the addition of lemon and basil, so if you want to try for the pure flavor of the celeriac, feel free to omit everything but the vegetable and the brine.
New to fermented pickling? Start with my pickle FAQ.
- 1 large (~2 pound) celery root, scrubbed thoroughly, rough, rooty parts removed
- The zest of one, large lemon, preferably cut into large, pith-free strips
- 1/2 bunch fresh dill
- ~1 1/2 cups of brine (1 tablespoon of salt, dissolved into 2 cups of room temperature water)
- Halve your celeriac and slice it into quarter inch pieces.
- Place lemon peel in the bottom of your jar, place celeriac slices on top.
- Pack dill into the top of your jar in whole fronds. You’re going to remove it in a few days, so you’ll want to make that easy for yourself.*
- Pour brine over the mix and submerge using your preferred weight. I used these pickle weights this time.
- Cover and let sit at room temperature for 3 days. Remove the dill fronds and continue fermenting.
- It’s getting colder, and you’ll probably remove the vast majority of the peel, so give these several weeks to ferment. I let mine go for just over three weeks and I thought they were perfect.
*I usually add my herbs in at the end of fermentation, but given the changing weather, I thought it best to harvest them and use them fresh. They infuse just fine in a couple days on either end. You can also leave them in, but they may get a tad slimy after weeks of fermentation. I find that unpleasant, so I remove them.