Tesco reports rising demand for a vegetable that has been hitherto largely ignored

Celeriac is making a comeback as a fasionable foodie item, according to Tesco.

Lincolnshire-based grower Jack Buck Farms is the largest celeriac grower in Europe and the company is planting 50 per cent more than it did five years ago as a result of growing demand.

Tesco notes that shoppers are now buying one million pieces of celeriac a year, with Kantar figures showing demand for the vegetable has rocketed by 41 per cent since 2018.

The supermarket says the current boom is a direct result of the plant-based food revolution, which has seen celebrity chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry and popular TV programmes like Ready Steady Cook and Saturday Kitchen increasingly feature celeriac in recipes.

The root vegetable is also very nutritious and counts as one portion of five a day, is high in fibre and is low in fat.

‘Delicious, versatile and nutritious’

Tesco celeriac buyer Emily Hampson said: “The plant-based food revolution has created a great era of culinary experimentation and as a result once-niche British-grown vegetables such as oyster mushrooms and celeriac are now taking centre stage in wonderful-tasting recipes.

“In the past, celeriac sales have been held back because the vegetable isn’t particularly visually appealing but now people are discovering how delicious it tastes, how versatile it is in both hot and cold dishes and how nutritious it is.”

Celeriac is mildly sweet and nutty in taste and can often be found on the menus of vegetarian, vegan and upmarket restaurants served as a roasted celeriac steak with  sauce. It can also be made into soups, baked with fish or meat, turned into coleslaw or remoulade, made into chips, mash, and even muffins.

The vegetable is grown on Jack Buck’s farm near Spalding, in the area’s fine silt soils and is harvested from August to November, then stored through till July. The company now produces 90 per cent of all the celeriac grown in the UK.

Jack Buck Farms managing director Julian Perowne said: “We’ve always had faith in the vegetable because we love the taste but never really expected it to take off as much as it has done in the last few years. Celeriac is proof that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Don’t judge it by its rough, knobbly surface and odd shape – it’s incredibly good for you and is a great alternative to potato.

“The current plant-based food revolution has really put celeriac on the food map and it’s been championed by not only by top-end restaurant chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi but TV celebrities such as Gregg Wallace, Guy Martin and Ainsley Harriott.”