Celery is from the same plant family as carrots, parsley, fennel and caraway. There are two main varieties of celery grown today. The most common is the pale green Pascal celery. Golden celery is grown under a layer of soil to prevent it from developing and turning green. Celery grows in bunches of long, ribbed stalks with leafy tops. Celery hearts are the inner ribs of the celery. The wild form of celery is known as smallage. It has a bitter taste, and the stalks are more stringy than cultivated celery. Smallage was used in ancient times as a medicine, and the Romans used it as a seasoning. It the 17th and 18th centuries celery was developed by breeding the bitterness out of smallage. Using a celery stick to garnish a Bloody Mary originated in the 1960s at Chicago's Ambassador East Hotel. An unnamed celebrity got a Bloody Mary, but no swizzle stick. He grabbed a stalk of celery from the relish tray to stir his Bloody Mary and history was made.
Season: available year-round
How to select: Look for firm, tight bunches with healthy leaves.
How to store: Refrigerate in a plastic bag and place in the crisper for up to two weeks. If the ribs are wilted, separate the ribs and place them in a bowl of ice water for several minutes before use.
How to prepare: Wash thoroughly, as the bunch attracts sand. boil, braise, raw, steam
Matches well with: almonds, bechamel sauce, blue cheese, butter, celery seeds, cream, curry, dill, fennel, hollandaise sauce, lemon, nutmeg, parsley, peanut butter, walnuts