Celery

Celery

In most U.S. markets, it’s the Pascal family of greenish to pale-green celery cultivars that we’ve become most accustomed to finding in the produce section. Pascal celery is larger than most other celery types, with firm, solid stalks and leafy ends. Yet even within this particular scientific type of celery (Apium graveolens var. dulce), there are many other options including Matador, Red Stalk, Tango, and Sonora. Celery actually comes in a variety of colors from sheer white to vibrant gold to rich red and deep green.

In this genus/species of plant (Apium graveolens) are also found two other important types of celery. The first is celeriac (also called root celery, turnip-root celery, or knob celery). Just like the name suggests, root celery is characterized by a large root ball, which is especially prized for its unique somewhat nut-like taste. (The scientific name for celeriac is Apium graveolens var. rapaceum.) The second type of celery is leafy celery (Apium graveolens var. secalinum), which looks very similar to parsley but tastes like celery! Root and leaf celeries are valued worldwide for their unique flavors and aromas; they are often “main plate” vegetables rather than salad or soup additions.

Regardless of which celery variety you choose to buy or grow, there are nutrient benefits to be found in all parts of the plant, including the leaves, stalks, roots, and seeds. “Celery hearts” usually refers to the innermost stalks of Pascal celery. These stalks are typically the most tender.

The bigger family of plants that houses celery is what scientists call the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family. It is also commonly known as the parsley or carrot family. (Just compare leafy carrot tops or parsley leaves with celery leaves and you’ll see why.) In addition to celery, carrots, and parsley, this plant family also includes dill, fennel, cilantro/coriander, parsnip, anise, caraway, chervil, cumin, angelica, and asafetida.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

Add chopped celery to your favorite tuna fish or chicken salad recipe.
Enjoy the delicious tradition of eating peanut butter on celery stalks.
Use celery leaves in salads.
Braise chopped celery, radicchio and onions and serve topped with walnuts and your favorite soft cheese.
Next time you are making fresh squeezed carrot juice give it a unique taste dimension by adding some celery to it.
Add celery leaves and sliced celery stalks to soups, stews, casseroles, and Healthy Stir-Fries.
Consider the purchase of celery in its non-Pascal varieties. Root celery can be served as a major plate vegetable all its own, and leaf celery can be substituted for parsley in almost any recipe.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Celery.

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Storage

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 should not be kept at room temperature for more than several hours. That's because warm temperatures will encourage its high water content to evaporate, causing the celery to have have a tendency to wilt too quickly. If you have celery that has wilted, sprinkle it with a little water and place it in the refrigerator for several hours to help it regain some of its crispness.

Preparation & Cooking Tips

Tips for Preparing Celery

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 should not be kept at room temperature for more than several hours. That's because warm temperatures will encourage its high water content to evaporate, causing the celery to have have a tendency to wilt too quickly. If you have celery that has wilted, sprinkle it with a little water and place it in the refrigerator for several hours to help it regain some of its crispness.

Nutrition

Celery is a rich source of phenolic phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These phytonutrients include: caffeic acid, caffeoylquinic acid, cinnamic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, kaempferol, lunularin, beta-sitosterol and furanocoumarins. Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and molybdenum. It is a very good source of folate, potassium, dietary fiber, manganese, and pantothenic acid. Celery is also a good source of vitamin B2, copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids).

Celery also contains approximately 35 milligrams of sodium per stalk, so salt-sensitive individuals can enjoy celery, but should keep track of this amount when monitoring daily sodium intake.