What is celery leaves?

A bushy head of celery with its leaves intact is quite spectacular and almost twice the size of a regular, chopped bunch from a supermarket. The stems tail off into broad, aromatic and savoury leaves that can be used as a herb to add depth to a soup or stew, or chopped up into a robust and bitter leaf salad.

Even a beheaded bunch of celery has a few leaves tucked inside its core: pale, sweet and delicious. Use these leaves, the core and celery butt, thinly sliced, to add crunch and aroma to a salad. If your market stall or supermarket doesn’t stock whole celery, ask them to. I know from experience that just a few requests will prompt them to consider it.

I’d always thought celery salt must involve a complex process, so I was surprised to learn how simple it is to make. This versatile condiment will keep indefinitely, and just a pinch will boost the flavour of a dish, much as a stock cube does. Dry the leaves in a low oven or hang them up, then pulse them with a little salt for just a second, or pound in a mortar.

Celery leaf salad with walnut dressing

Take a handful of celery leaves and stalks from the top or core, then bunch them up and chop into 2-3cm pieces. Make croutons with a crust of stale bread: cut it into batons, toss in a little oil, bake or fry until golden brown, and finish with a sprinkle of salt. To make the dressing, crush a handful of nuts with a small clove of garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes, salt, pepper, a dash of vinegar and good oil. Turn everything together with a few slices of apple, and serve.

• Tom Hunt is a chef, food writer, sustainability campaigner and founder of Poco Tapas Bar in Bristol

How to Use Celery Leaves

How to Store Celery Leaves

To keep celery stalks freshest the longest, Cook’s Illustrated suggests ditching the plastic bag they come in and wrapping the whole stalk in aluminum foil. This keeps the moisture out but allows ethylene gas, which ripens vegetables, to escape.

If you need to use a stalk or two, but don’t want to use the leaves immediately, store the leaves separately. Place them in an airtight container with a damp paper towel in your crisper drawer where they will keep for several days. To keep them even longer, you can puree the leaves with a small amount of water or oil, then freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. Transfer the frozen leaf cubes to an airtight container and keep in the freezer; add a cube to soups, stocks, stews or sauces whenever you want a boost of celery flavor.

How to Uses Celery Leaves

Okay, you’re ready to start cooking with celery leaves! Here are a few ways to enjoy them:

Use Them as an Herb

Think of the dark green celery leaves as an herb and use them as a substitute for flat leaf parsley. Just be sure to mince them finely, as you would parsley, to break down their fibrous texture. Try them as a substitute in parsley-centric recipes such as tabbouleh or in a sauce such as salsa verde.

Make Salad

Add celery leaves to a salad where their bright edge can be a welcome way to cut through luscious and fatty ingredients such as cheese, nuts or soft-boiled eggs. Try it out in the recipe below.

Add Them to Beans

Celery and gigante bean salad is a dish fit for a prince, made with a pauper’s budget. Toss the tender, meaty beans with the pale green, inner celery leaves and perhaps a diced stalk or two. Dress them simply with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Mix Them Into Your Breakfast Shake

Celery leaves pack a nutritional punch. Store the leaves in an airtight container in the freezer, then buzz them into your green smoothie or celery juice to start your day off right.

Turn Them Into Soup

Celery leaves bring a distinctive flavor to pureed soup: Think of it as vichyssoise 2.0. You can also use the leaves in soups that call for parsley as an aromatic, like chicken noodle or ribollita.

Add Them Into Eggs

Celery and eggs are a surprisingly good combination, a beat apart from your usual omelet combo.

Make Risotto

Full flavored, in-season celery — leaves and all — takes center stage in a hearty celery risotto.

Simmer Stock

Celery leaves are a welcome addition to any stock. But consider making a stock exclusively of celery leaves; use this concentrated liquid to add a tinge of flavor to your next batch of white rice or cannellini beans.

Braise Them

The tough outer celery leaves become tender during a low, slow braise and can share their aromatic flavor with the whole dish. Try the method with braised chicken.

Make Pesto

The end of summer’s basil doesn’t have to mean the end of pesto. Substitute in celery leaves for a cool weather take on this herbaceous classic. Spread it on sandwiches, mix it into chicken salad or toss it with pasta.

Use Them as a Garnish

Flavorful celery leaves are a great last-minute addition to sprinkle on top of everything from salads and soups to deviled eggs, dips and roasts.

How to Preserve Celery Leaves

Want to make the anise-y flavor of celery leaves last? Here are a few ways to preserve celery leaves:

Dry Them

Dry your leaves in a low oven or dehydrator. Pulverize and blend with salt for a handy seasoning. Or grind the dried, crumbled leaves and use like a spice to add an aromatic boost to recipes.

Pickle Them

Pickled celery leaves add a bright, acidic companion on a cheese or charcuterie plate.

Make Soda

Celery soda is a New York classic. A syrup made from both the stalks and the leaves is an intriguing base to make at home, mixed with soda water to use for cocktails.

Recipe: Celery Leaf Salad

Sherri Brooks Vinton
Serves 4

Use a combination of tender inner celery leaves and a few dark green outer leaves to give this salad a wide variety of texture and flavor. The fragrant anise-y bite of the celery leaves pairs just right with the richly flavored additions to the salad.

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
1 cup celery leaves
3 cups tender lettuce, such as butterhead or mache
2 stalks celery, diced
4 ounces blue cheese

Method

  1. Place eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, remove from heat and set aside for 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to an ice bath; chill until cold (about 5 minutes). Peel and set aside.
  2. Toast walnuts in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until golden-brown and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Whisk vinegar, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil while continuing to whisk until dressing is well combined. Set dressing aside.
  4. To serve, toss celery leaves and lettuce with dressing to taste, and divide salad between four plates. Slice eggs in half and arrange 2 halves on each plate. Top with celery, blue cheese and walnuts. Serve remaining dressing alongside.

Celery

Celery, (Apium graveolens), herbaceous plant of the parsley family (Apiaceae). Celery is usually eaten cooked as a vegetable or as a delicate flavouring in a variety of stocks, casseroles, and soups. In the United States raw celery is served by itself or with spreads or dips as an appetizer and in salads. The tiny seedlike fruits, known as celery seed, resemble the plant itself in taste and aroma and are used as a seasoning, particularly in soups and pickles.

celeryCelery (Apium graveolens).© Leonid Nyshko/Fotolia

Native to the Mediterranean areas and the Middle East, celery was used as a flavouring by the ancient Greeks and Romans and as a medicine by the ancient Chinese. The ancient forms resembled smallage, or wild celery. Celery with large, fleshy, succulent, upright leafstalks, or petioles, was developed in the late 18th century. The stringiness that characterizes most celery has been eliminated from some varieties.

Celery (Apium graveolens)Ingmar Holmasen

Celeriac (Apium graveolens variety rapaceum), also called celery root or turnip-rooted celery, has a large edible root used as a raw or cooked vegetable.

Health benefits and risks of celery

Share on PinterestThe apigenin in celery may help lower inflammation.

The nutrients in the celery plant and its seeds may provide a range of health benefits.

It is worth remembering, however, that these nutrients occur in relatively small amounts in celery. Eating celery alone is not likely to prevent or cure any disease.

Preventing inflammation and cancer

Celery contains a plant compound called apigenin, which plays a role in traditional Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant agent.

It may also have properties that help combat cancer.

According to the authors of a 2016 review, lab tests have shown that apigenin may contribute to apoptosis, a kind of programmed cell death, which could make it useful as a cancer treatment.

In 2015, researchers behind a study in mice concluded that apigenin and apigenin-rich diets reduced the expression of certain inflammatory proteins. In this way, these substances may reduce inflammation and restore the balance of the immune system.

Celery contains a flavonoid called luteolin. The authors of an article published in 2009 suggested that luteolin may have anticancer properties — it may help prevent the spread of cancer cells and induce cell death. They proposed that luteolin may make cancer cells more susceptible to attack by chemicals in treatments.

between cancer and a person’s diet.

Blood pressure

Some practitioners of Chinese medicine use celery and celery extracts to reduce blood pressure.

One study looked at the effect of celery seed extracts on blood pressure in rats that either had normal blood pressure and or artificially induced hypertension.

The authors concluded that the extracts reduced blood pressure and raised heart rate in the rats with high blood pressure but not in those with normal blood pressure. There is no strong evidence, however, that celery seeds help lower blood pressure in humans.

Celery is also a good source of fiber, and results of a 2016 Cochrane review suggested that people with a high fiber intake may have lower blood pressure than those on a low fiber diet.

The authors called for further research to confirm their findings and to identify the precise impacts of different types of fiber.

Which other foods can help reduce blood pressure?

Hyperlipidemia

Hyperlipidemia refers to an increase in fatty molecules in the blood. There are often no symptoms, but it raises the long-term risk of heart disease and stroke.

A 2014 study in rodents found that celery extract reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, in rats that consumed a high-fat diet.

Meanwhile, the 2016 Cochrane review noted that people who follow a high-fiber diet appear to have lower total and LDL cholesterol levels than those who consume less fiber.

Which foods to eat or avoid when you have high cholesterol? Find out here.

Neurogenesis

Apigenin may also stimulate neurogenesis, the growth and development of nerve cells.

In a 2009 study, researchers gave rats apigenin and found that it stimulated nerve cell generation and improved the ability to learn and remember.

Confirming these effects in humans, however, will require further research.

Other benefits

Some researchers have suggested that extracts from celery may also help prevent:

  • liver disease and jaundice
  • urinary tract obstruction
  • gout
  • rheumatic disorders
  • In addition, people use celery seeds to treat:
  • bronchitis
  • asthma
  • psoriasis and other skin disorders
  • vomiting
  • fever

However, confirming these potential benefits of celery and celery seeds will require further research.

Learn more about foods that contain antioxidants.

Celery leaf goes to war

You may not know it, but celery leaf is an herb. “Queen of Herbs” Jekka McVicar knows this, hence her title. She shares its history, and its potential for helping a common ailment, with Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper: I’d like to talk to you about celery leaves. No one thinks of celery leaves as an herb.

Jekka McVicar: No. The Latin is Apium graveolens. Now, are you sitting comfortably?

LRK: I am very comfortable.


Jekka McVicar

JM: Good, here goes: Every war, people have taken their herbs with them. So when the Romans invaded the U.K., they brought over 700 herbs with them. And celery leaf, Apium graveolens, is a U.K. native herb. Used to grow wild. And when we trotted off to India, to war, we took celery leaf with us. So the leaf and the seed is now used in Indian cooking. This shows how herbs travel around the world.

In France, celery leaf is called “parcel.” It looks just like French parsley, and what’s happened is the growers have bred the celery sticks that you have. They’re really tough and I don’t like that. But if you get the seed for celery leaf, it’ll look like French parsley, but it’ll taste just like celery and it is gorgeous. It really is, it transforms the salad, or just add it to mashed potato. It is just fantastic.

But for me, with celery seed, I let it go to flower, and with that seed you can make celery salt. It’s a great Christmas present: You just buy the salt, dry the seeds, whack them together, and give it to your girlfriends. It is so good to cook with, you can add it to soups and things.

Personally, I’m getting on in age now and I’ve been in horticulture over 35 years. I have potted a lot of plants in my hands, so I’ve got arthritis now. When it’s really bad, on damp days like today, I drink celery seed tea. I just put a teaspoon of seed into a cup, I add boiled water, and that helps my joints and really takes away the pain. It’s fantastic. However, however, I’m giving you a warning: Please, if any of you are allergic to peanuts, do not drink celery seed tea. You can eat the leaf, by all means, you won’t have any reaction, but you can to the seed.

LRK: If I want to use the tops of the celery stalks?

LRK: I love it because I think you cannot make a really good-tasting broth without those leaves.

JM: So right, so right. Brilliant.

LRK: I’m just making a note to myself because I never realized there was that plant that was really about the leaf. Thank you for this insight. We’re not going look at a stalk of celery quite the same way.

Garden Giveaway: Growing Cutting Leaf Celery

Use chopped leaves as a garnish on a chilled bowl of tomato gazpacho. You can also add its leaves to a potato salad or slaw. Or, a tall stem with the beautiful lacy green leaves would be a pretty stirrer in a tomato cocktail.

Cutting leaf celery is a very mild version of the the more common
vegetable. Sprinkle a few leaves on potato salad or over tomato slices.

To preserve for later, dry its leaves. The celery flavor holds up better than dried parsley or basil. Dry in a food dehydrator, air dry, or dry in a solar dry; do not use the microwave. I put cutting leaf celery leaves in plastic ice cube trays, top them with broth or water and freeze. Later, I put the cubes in a plastic zipper bag and keep them frozen. Next winter, I can grab a cube or two and drop it into a pot of soup, sauce or a stew. The possibilities are endless!

Seed Packet Giveaway

Find cutting leaf celery in garden seed catalogs. I got mine at Renee’s Garden. Read Renee’s Blog, or go to Renee’s Garden to order seeds. There are great how-tos and gardening tips on Renee’s website. Renee’s Garden is giving away cutting leaf celery seed to three lucky Herb Companion readers. Winners will be selected randomly from comments. Good luck!

HOW TO ENTER

• Post a comment telling us how you use or plan to use cutting leaf celery.

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• End date: June 4, 2012 (12:00 a.m. Central Time) UPDATE: Time’s up!

The winners have been contacted. They were chosen using Random.org. Thanks to everyone who entered my Garden Giveaway! Watch out for even more giveaways.

Thanks again to Renee’s Garden.

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