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Celery

  
Facts:

The celery that we know today was derived from wild celery. While thought to have its origins in the Mediterranean regions of northern Africa and southern Europe, it was also native to areas extending east to the Himalayas. Wild celery differed a bit from its modern day counterpart in that it featured less stalks and more leaves.

Celery has a long and prestigious history of use, first as a medicine and then later as a food. Celery leaves and flowers were part of the garlands found in the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun.  The use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus ca. 30 AD and later it was thought to be an aphrodisiac as well.  The Ancient Greeks used the leaves as laurels to decorate their renowned athletes, while the ancient Romans used it as a seasoning, a tradition that has carried through the centuries.

It was not until the Middle Ages that celery's use expanded beyond medicine and seasoning into consideration as a food. And while today, for most people thoughts of celery conjure up images of dips and crudité platters, eating this delicious crunchy vegetable raw did not really become popular until the 18th century in Europe. Celery was introduced in the United States early in the 19th century.

Celery is an excellent source of vitamin C, a vitamin that helps to support the immune system. Vitamin C-rich foods like celery may help reduce cold symptoms or severity of cold symptoms; over 20 scientific studies have concluded that vitamin C is a cold-fighter. Vitamin C also prevents the free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory cascade, and is therefore also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. As free radicals can oxidize cholesterol and lead to plaques that may rupture causing heart attacks or stroke, vitamin C is beneficial to promoting cardiovascular health. Owing to the multitude of vitamin C's health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Celery has become a common household staple along with carrots, onions and potatoes. Its crunchy texture and distinctive flavor makes it a popular addition to salads and many cooked dishes. Although it is available throughout the year, you will enjoy the best taste and quality of celery during the summer months when it is in season and locally grown varieties can be easily found in the markets.

Celery, onions, and bell peppers are the holy trinity of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine. Celery, onions, and carrots make up the French mirepoix, often used as a base for sauces and soups. Celery is a staple in many soups, such as chicken noodle soup.

Recipes:

Wild Rice Salad With Celery and Walnuts

Classic Puree of Celery Soup




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