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Friday, January 8, 2010

Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Celery

Did you know?
Celery was a thin-stalked and aromatic herb called smallage before gardeners developed the milder more thick-stalked version that we know today.

About the veggie: Celery is a native of damp European habitats near the ocean. Its distinctive flavor comes from chemical compounds called pthalides which are also found in walnuts and an herb called lovage.

In history: The type of celery with which we are familiar today was bred in fifteenth century Italy, and was considered a delicacy until the nineteenth century.

In the kitchen: Celery is often mixed with carrots and onions to form the base of many different types of dishes such as the French mirepoix, Italian soffrito, Spanish sofregit, and the Cajun “trinity” of aromatics in Louisiana.

Preparation: The main function of stems and stalks is to support the above-ground portion of the plants and also to conduct nutrients—thus they are often stiff or woody. For this reason, celery needs to be de-veined before cooking to keep the tough fibers from adding what some find to be an unpleasant texture to their dishes.

How to store: The moment a vegetable is cut off from its nutrients, it begins to consume itself and create waste products which affect taste and texture. For example, upon harvest, celery begins to absorb its own water which causes its cells to lose pressure, thus making the vegetable limp and chewy. For this reason celery should not be stored for long periods of time.

Learn more by visiting our website.

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis,

1 comment:

Jenn's Cooking Garden! said...

I love how you are teaching readers one vegtable at a time! Thanks!