Earlier this year, Chef Curtis Stone developed a 9-course tasting menu centered around celery, for his restaurant Maude in California.
He created a celery salad; reduced celery juice for an apple sorbet and braised some stalks for a celeri barigoule.
Celeri Barigoule – a traditional Provencal dish of artichokes braised with onions, garlic and carrots in a seasoned broth of wine and water. Early culinary cooking, the artichokes were stuffed with mushrooms, however, modern cuisine no longer uses mushrooms. Some preparations are stuffed with spinach, carrots and cheese.
Celery has a crunchy texture, slightly bitter, earthy flavor which has long been served as a cooling accompaniment to hot wings.
Although not my favorite vegetable in the garden, celery has some wonderful nutritional benefits.
Celery and Nutrition
Before the 16th century, celery was used exclusively as a medicinal herb. Now, it is one of the most popular vegetables in the Western world.
Full of antioxidants and low in calories, only about 16 calories per 100 grams, celery is great snack for anyone on a diet regime.
Its leaves are rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are good for a healthy skin and night vision.
Considered to be a functional vegetable because it contains lots of non-soluble fiber, also known as roughage.
A very good source of minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
Celery in the garden
Grown in bunches that consist of leaved ribs surrounding the tender, choice heart.
Pictured is the most common variety, pale green Pascal celery. The Golden variety is grown under soil or paper to prevent chlorophyll from turning it green.
- Ideally, planting should be in full sun, 8-10 hours daily; however, it is NOT heat tolerate.
- In the United States, it is a summer crop in the north and winter crop in the south. Be sure that temps will stay between 55 and 70ºF throughout the growing period.
- They like fertile soil and constant moisture.
- From seed, start indoors for the best success rate, 8 to 10 weeks before the average last frost date for your area.
- The National Gardening Association claims soaking seeds in warm water overnight prior to planting will reduce germination time.
- Transplant seedlings 10 to 12 inches apart, direct sow seeds ¼ inch deep. These will need to be thinned to 12 inches apart when they reach about six inches high.
- Mulch after planting and immediately water.
Celery requires soil that is moist and well fertilized. Make sure to monitor plants closely.
Tie growing celery stalks together to keep them from sprawling
Celery in the kitchen
When buying celery, choose firm bunches. The leaves should be bright green and crisp.
Store celery in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Leave the leaves and the stalks attached until ready to use.
Wash thoroughly and trim off root end. The leaves are edible and are great in soups, stews or salads.
The ribs (stalks) are typically ate raw, but are common in the “holy trinity” of cooking, a Mirepoix
French cooking says mirepoix – combination of celery, onion and carrots.
Cajun cooking says holy trinity – combination of celery, onion and bell pepper.
Quick kitchen tips for celery:
BLANCH – 3 minutes
BOIL – 3-5 minutes
STEAM – 3-5 minutes
SAUTE – 3-5 minutes
Not recommended for roasting or grilling.
For later use: Cut up celery stalks in 1-inch pieces. Blanch in hot water for 3 minutes. Remove and immediately place in ice bath to stop cooking process. After 30-40 seconds, remove from ice bath and place on a paper towel to dry. After drying for 5-10 minutes, place flat on a cookie sheet and set in freezer. Allow to freeze overnight. Place pieces in air tight zip lock bags and store in the freezer until ready to use.
The tops and wilted leaves can be stored (without blanching) in freezer bags and added, still frozen to a pot when making stock.
The cooking applications for the celery stalk are numerous.
What are the ways YOU cook with celery?