Celery

Celery has become a common household staple along with carrots, onions and potatoes. Its crunchy texture and distinctive flavor makes it a popular addition to salads and many cooked dishes. Although it is available throughout the year, you will enjoy the best taste and quality of celery during the summer months when it is in season and locally grown varieties can be easily found in the markets.

Celery grows to a height of 12 to 16 inches and is composed of leaf-topped stalks arranged in a conical shape that are joined at a common base. It is a biennial vegetable plant that belongs to the Umbelliferae family whose other members include carrots, fennel, parsley and dill. While most people associate celery with its prized stalks, the leaves, roots and seeds can also be used as a food and seasoning as well as a natural medicinal remedy.

Celery contains vitamin C and several other active compounds that promote health, including phalides, which may help lower cholesterol, and coumarins, that may be useful in cancer prevention.

The celery that we know today was derived from wild celery. While thought to have its origins in the Mediterranean regions of northern Africa and southern Europe, it was also native to areas extending east to the Himalayas. Wild celery differed a bit from its modern day counterpart in that it featured less stalks and more leaves.

Celery has a long and prestigious history of use, first as a medicine and then later as a food. The initial mention of the medicinal properties of celery leaves dates back to the 9th century B.C., when celery made an appearance in the Odyssey, the famous epic by the Greek poet, Homer. The Ancient Greeks used the leaves as laurels to decorate their renowned athletes, while the ancient Romans used it as a seasoning, a tradition that has carried through the centuries.

It was not until the Middle Ages that celery's use expanded beyond medicine and seasoning into consideration as a food. And while today, for most people thoughts of celery conjure up images of dips and crudité platters, eating this delicious crunchy vegetable raw did not really become popular until the 18th century in Europe. Celery was introduced in the United States early in the 19th century.

Storing and Cooking

To store celery, place it in a sealed container or wrap it in a plastic bag or damp cloth and store it in the refrigerator. If you are storing cut or peeled celery, ensure that it is dry and free from water residue, as this can drain some of its nutrients. Freezing will make celery wilt and should be avoided unless you will be using it in a future cooked recipe.

Celery should not be kept at room temperature for too long since, because of its high water content, it has a tendency to wilt quickly. If you have celery that has wilted, sprinkle it with a little water and place it in the refrigerator for several hours where it will regain its crispness.

To clean celery, cut off the base and leaves, then wash the leaves and stalks under running water. Cut the stalks into pieces of desired length. If the outside of the celery stalk has fibrous strings, remove them by making a thin cut into one end of the stalk and peeling away the fibers. Be sure to use the leaves-they contain the most vitamin C, calcium and potassium-but use them within a day or two as they do not store very well.

Celery Recipes:

Jason's Curried Celery Soup

Did you know?

When Columbus first arrived in the Americas, there were close to 300 varieties of corn being grown on the continent. Today, only 16 varieties of corn account for over 70% of the corn being grown in the United States. With the advent of genetically engineered corn, we are in danger of losing all genetic diversity, leaving the nations corn crop open to widespread destruction by a single fungus or disease.

Quotes

"Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own."
~Samuel Johnson

CSA 2010 is closed

  • Don't Forget to Read Farm Notes on the Center Page for updates
      • Here's a sample box from October!
      • Celery
      • Celeriac
      • Onions
      • Carrots
      • Beets
      • Cabbage
      • Winter Squash
      • Black Beans
    CSA 2011 is not yet open

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