29 March 2011, by gj
I could never figure out why a recipe would call for celery.
Seriously, it’s pretty much tasteless.
Sure, it adds a little crunch to tuna salad, but little flavor; and it adds nothing at all to soup.
Then I tasted homegrown celery, and I understood.
It has a wonderful, almost peppery flavor.
The dried leaves are packed with such a delightful taste that it’s worth growing it just for them.
Celery is related to parsley and carrots, which helps explain the way you can use the leaves as well as the ribs.
The main problem with growing celery is that it takes so long – 180 days – to grow; so it is usually started indoors about 12 weeks before planting.
You can also start directly in the garden later for a fall crop.
Celery likes it cool and can take a few frosts.
Harvesting the outer stalks and keeping the celery watered will make it happy and productive for you.
It likes a lot of compost mixed into the soil.
Celery can be stored in cold holding for 8-10 weeks, frozen (no blanching needed) or dehydrated.
The leaves do well dehydrated, and are easily crushed by hand and added to recipes as an herb would be.
Keep in mind the flavor of the dried leaves is quite strong.
Personally, I prefer mine dried.
Although dehydrated celery only lasts 6 months, you can extend that by freezing some of the dried to use after the first batch runs out, that way making it last all year.
I’ve used mine after 6 months and its fine; but that’s the suggested recommendation to use for dehydrated veggies.
I like my celery best on a bed of mixed greens, with walnuts and dried cranberries.
Oh, and in Stir Fry.
And Cream of Celery Soup.
WARNING: Once you have tasted homegrown celery, you’ll never want to buy it from a store again.
Botanical name: Apium graveolens
Yield: one stalk per seed