Celery has derived from a wild bitter tasting plant known as smallage. It has been used for centuries in soups and broths and has a distinct and individual flavour and aroma. Celery can be eaten raw or cooked and being very low in calories is a useful vegetable snack for slimmers. It is a source of Vitamin C. When celery is allowed to grow naturally the stalks are green. However, by banking up the earth against the shoots celery is “blanched”: the stalks are protected from sunlight and remain pale and white. White celery is less bitter than green celery and considered superior in taste.
Areas grown: Most areas throughout Ireland. Winter production is best grown in coastal areas.
Preparing and Using
White celery is often covered loosely in soil.Look for green fresh-looking leaves (which can be used to garnish dishes) and straight stems.Wrapping it in absorbent paper and standing it in a jar of water can revive limp celery.
Celery is one of the mirepoix vegetables and essential for many stocks and soups. The stalk can also be used to form a bouquet garni. It can be boiled, steamed, braised (on a bed of carrots and onions) or used in a stir-fry. It can be eaten raw, in salads (for example, in Waldorf salad), as crudités with dips and dressings or can be stuffed with savoury fillings such as cream cheese or soured cream, and served as an appetiser or hand-held snack.When it is to be eaten raw, the coarse outer“strings” should be removed from each stalk by pulling up from the base. Celery à la grecque (cooked in water, olive oil and lemon juice flavoured with bay leaf, thyme, pepper,coriander seeds and salt) is served cold.
By virtue of its distinctive taste celery is excellent in soups, (for example Celery and Stilton soup) and stuffing. It is traditional to serve celery at Christmas, braised or served with a cream sauce.
Good flavour combinations include: “sharp”cheeses (e.g. goat’s cheese, Stilton, Cashel Blue, sheep’s cheese, mature cheddar), soured cream, crème fraiche, apple, and walnut,mustard and avocado.