Some people say that the very act of eating
celery has a slimming effect because chewing it uses up more calories
than the vegetable itself contains. Although it may be unsubstantial,
celery nevertheless has a distinct and individual flavor, sharp and
savory, which makes it an excellent flavoring for soups and stuffing, as
well as good on its own or in salads. The astringent flavor and crunchy
texture of celery contrasts well with the other ingredients in salads
such as Waldorf salad or walnut and avocado salad.
History : Celery has been eaten for
several hundred years, having been introduced from Italy where it was
commonly eaten in salads.
Nutrition : Celery is very low in
calories but contains potassium and calcium.
Varieties : Most greengrocers and
supermarkets, depending on the time of year, sell both green and white
celery and you would be excused for not knowing the difference. When
celery is allowed to grow naturally, the stalks are green. However, by
banking up earth against the shoots celery is blanched: the stalks are
protected from sunlight and remain pale and white. Consequently, white
celery is often "dirty" - covered loosely in soil - while green celery
will always be clean. White celery, which is frost hardy, is only
available in winter. It is more tender and less bitter than green celery
and is generally considered superior. Celery is therefore thought of as
a winter vegetable and is traditionally used at Christmas time for
stuffing and as a sauce to go with turkey or ham.
Buying and Storing : White celery is
in season during the winter months. If possible, buy "dirty" celery
which hasn't being washed. It has a better flavor than the pristine but
rather bland supermarket variety. Look for celery with green
fresh-looking leaves and straight stems. If the leaves or any outer
stalks are missing, it is likely to be rather old, so worth avoiding.
Celery will keep for several days in the salad drawer of the
refrigerator. Limp celery can be revived by wrapping it in absorbent
paper and standing it in a jar of water.
Preparing : Wash if necessary and
pull the stalks apart, trimming the base with a sharp knife. Cut into
thick or thin slices according to the recipe. When served raw and whole,
the coarse outer "strings" should be removed from each stalk by pulling
them up from the base.
Cooking and Serving : Serve celery
raw and finely sliced in salads. mixed with cream cheese or soured
cream. Braised celery is tasty, either whole or sliced. Celery has a
distinctive, savory, astringent flavor so is excellent in soups or