Celery

Celery 

Celery, crisp, thick, succulent, leafy cultivated stems, ranging in shades of green, the darker shades being more strongly flavoured. As a vegetable, celery is eaten raw or cooked, often braised or stir-fried. In stocks or sautéed, finely chopped with onion and carrot, it contributes the basic flavouring to many European dishes.

Celery is a versatile vegetable that is widely used in a variety of recipes. It adds a fresh flavour as well as a distinctive crunchy texture to both cooked dishes and salads. Celery was used originally as a seasoning because it was quite bitter. The practice of earthing up the growing plant results in milder celery; this practice started in the 16th century, probably in Italy.

Celery leaves 

Leaf celery is dark green and closely related to wild celery. It is used in France and Italy as an aromatic to flavour soups and stews. Pascal green celery is the standard green celery variety. “Celery hearts” are simply the inner, more mild-flavoured, and almost stringless hearts of standard celery, and they are more expensive. Blanched celery is a regional specialty of the Pennsylvania Dutch that has a more delicate flavour and none of the bitter aftertaste of deep green celery. In Britain, special varieties of Pascal celery that have long white, pink, or red stems are grown in trenches out of sunlight.

The Chinese, who have used wild celery since as early as the 5th century A.D., independently developed cultivated varieties of celery. Chinese celery, called kintsai or heung kunn, has thin, hollow, and juicy stalks with a strong flavour. It should be picked young.

Purchase
When buying celery look for regular shaped stalks that are not broken or bruised, it should look moist and crisp and be tight and compact. The leaves should be fresh and well coloured, with no sign of wilting. The darker the celery, (it can range from white to darkish green) the stronger its flavour.
Avoid
The leaf tops should be lively and green, never slimy. Brown or cracked bunches should be avoided as well as over-large heads as these tend to be bitter or stringy.
Storage
Keep in its plastic sleeve (if provided) else refrigerate in plastic bags for up to 1 week. Alternatively, refrigerate with the butt end in 2–3 cm of water, and change water daily.
Preparation
  1. Cut off the base of the bunch of celery and discard.

  2. Remove any damaged or bruised outer stalks (these can be used for stock or soup) and trim off the leaves.

  3. Separate the individual stalks and wash, being especially careful at the base, which collects dirt.

  4. Cut off the tops below the joint, which will be tough.

  5. Discard darker green leaves.

  6. You may use the mild inner yellow-green leaves.

  7. To remove strings (only necessary on large outer stalks), bend back and snap a rib of celery at the point where the stalk changes colour from green to white. The strings will be exposed and can be gently pulled off the stalk.

  8. Slice into even-sized pieces for cooking and bite-sized pieces for salads.

Serving Suggestions
Suggested Cooking Methods
  • boil (in soup)

  • braise

  • steam

  • stew

  • stir fry

Flavour Affinities
  • blue cheese

  • butter

  • chicken soup

  • fish

  • Gruyère cheese

  • onions

  • poultry

  • shellfish

Category: Vegetables

Sub-Category: Leafs, Shoots and Stems