How To Use Celery

Information about Apium graveolens dulce

The plant that we know as celery today was developed from wild celery, remains of which have been found in 14th century Egyptian tombs. Wild celery was a widespread plant in Europe and was commonly known as smallage. Smallage was a bitter herb primarily used for medicinal purposes, although the Romans did use it as a flavoring as well. During the 17th century, Italian gardeners began to hybridize the plant to eliminate the bitterness. Today celery is found in a variety of forms including seeds, ground, leaves, salt, essential oil, and the veggie tray favorite, stalks.

Step 1

Appearance of celery

  • Celery is a member of the parsley family and has green leaves that can be used in soups and casserole just like parsley.
  • Celery grows up to four feet tall and has thick, ridged leaf stalks, which are harvested as a vegetable.
  • Celery blossoms rise above the leaves in small clusters of yellow flowers. Following the flowers come small light green seeds.
  • Celery seeds are dried for use as a spice and are medium brown with a hint of green and with lighter colored ridges.

Step 2

Aroma and taste

  • Celery has a distinctive smell, which smells like celery; a circular definition that doesn't help anyone who has never seen or smelled celery.
  • The seeds have a warm flavor that has notes of nutmeg and parsley.

Step 3

Culinary usage

  • Ground celery is used in Bloody Marys although some say that small seeds work as well.
  • Celery salt is used by those who want a savory note in their dish. It is made of salt flavored with essential oil of celery.
  • The leaves of celery can be dried and used for soups and casseroles (they are particularly good in chicken soup).
  • Celery stalks are a popular vegetable, which are most commonly ate raw although they can be used in salads. Celery stalks are famed for their 'negative' calories. The calories a person's body must use to digest the vegetable are greater than the calories contained by the vegetable.
  • Celery enhances the flavor of beef and is recommended in beef dishes at a quarter teaspoon per pound.

Step 4

Traditional and folk medicine usage.

  • The essential oil was a popular cure for rheumatism.
  • Celery is popular among herbalists as a treatment for asthma and bronchitis. It is also reputed to help with flatulence and fever.
  • Celery seed tea has the reputation of helping insomniacs to relax and fall asleep. 


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