Believed to have been around for 3,000 years, celery originated in the Middle East and Mediterranean. One medium stalk of celery contains just six calories, no fat or cholesterol and barely any sugar or carbohydrates, making it extremely healthy. Dieting myth says it takes more energy to chew a stalk of celery than the calories it contains!
Often the last vegetable left on the crudité platter, there’s much more to celery than you may think. Celery has a distinct raw flavour that is mellowed out when cooked. It’s an irreplaceable ingredient in stocks, stews and braises. Creating depth of flavour and a balanced level of savouriness, it works hand in hand with onion and can be a replacement for specialty diets, such as low FODMAP.
The strength of the celery flavour changes depending on how you cook it; sauté to bring out the sweetness, add into braises raw to keep more citrusy notes, roast or grill to add caramelised charred flavours.
Ants on a log, a celery stick filled with peanut butter and decorated with raisins, may be a childhood snack that you are familiar with. Take inspiration from this and use the curve of the celery stalk as a vessel for braised beef, salmon rillettes, blue cheese dip or pulled pork.
Create nourishing soups using celery as a base or allow it to take centre stage in a cream of celery soup.
Pair celery with creamy rich dairy products – the sharp tang of celery will cut through the fat.
One of the biggest growers of celery in New Zealand is the Clark family in Pukekohe, who have been growing celery for over 50 years. There are other growers south of Auckland through to Levin and the Manawatu along with the greater Canterbury region.