• Celery

- Origin
Just like many other herbs celery came from Mediterranean. Wild celery grows along the seacoast on the salty soil. In ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt celery was known as a medicinal plant. It is known to be cultivated in III-II century BC. English name “celery” came from the Greek name of the herb – “selinon”
In XVI century celery came in into usage as an aromatic herb in Italy, followed by French and England. Breeders managed to create celery that is less bitter than the one used by ancient people. Relatively recently Italians bred a celery with light and juicy stalk. This variety is believed to be the best so far. Nowadays celery is wide spread in Europe, Central and North America, North Arica, India, Japan and China.

- Varieties
There varieties of celery which differ in the part of the plant that is being used. In the variety that had been bred by Italians, stalk is the part which is used in cookery. There are also varieties where leaves or roots are used. Celery roots are the most aromatic and delicate of all white roots, whereas leaves have a strong but pleasant scent.

- Usage
Celery roots are most widely used in Europe. It is generally added to soups and stocks. In France it is sliced, fried and served with Hollandaise sauce. It can also be turned into a mousse and served as a side dish for game. Fresh, boiled or marinated roots make a nice addition to salads.
Celery leaves is generally used for salads and soups. Celery leaves are valued for the high content of nutrients including ascorbic acid, carotene, vitamins and even antiulcer agents. Leaves together with the stalks can be added during cooking and removed just before serving.
Cooks also use celery seeds – a bright and peculiar spice which is used with boiled or stewed vegetables. Unlike the celery itself, seeds started being used relatively recently and they can be found only in specialised gourmet shops. However, they are worth looking for. Ground celery seeds make a great addition to salads, goulash, fish pate, eggs and sauces (tomato sauces particularly).
You can also find a spice called celery salt, which is a regular salt with added ground celery seeds. A pinch of celery salt gives a very piquant tint to Bloody Mary cocktail, and improves the taste of gravy, soups and sauces and pumpkin.

- Storage
If you do not want the peeled roots to darken, you should keep them in water with a bit of lemon juice. In order to store celery leaves during the winter, they should be washed, dried, chopped, mixed with salt (200g salt per 1kg leaves) and stuffed into a clay pot. Celery salt, similarly to celery seeds, should be bought in smallest possible amount, because they lose taste and scent very fast indeed.

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