Celery has become a household staple along with carrotsonions and potatoes. Its crunchy texture and distinctive flavour makes it a popular addition to salads and many cooked dishes. Although it is available throughout the yearyou get the best taste and quality during the summer months when celery is in season.
It is a biennial vegetable belonging to the Umbelliferae family whose other members include carrotfennelparsley and dill. While most people associate celery with its stalkthe leavesroots and seeds can also be used as a food and seasoning as well as a natural medicinal remedy.
The whole plant is gently stimulantnourishingand restorative; it can be liquefiedand the juice taken for joint and urinary tract inflammationssuch as rheumatoid arthritiscystitisor urethritis and for nervous exhaustion The seedsharvested after the plant flowers in its second yearare the basis for a homeopathic extract used as a diuretic. The extract is believed to help clear toxins from the systemand is especially good for gout and arthritis. It is also used as a mild digestive stimulant.
The most common use of celery is for its thicksucculent leaf stalks that are usedoften with a part of the leaf blades in soupscooked dishes and salads for the Western style kitchen. Celeriac or turnip-rooted celery is mainly used as a cooked vegetable in stews and soups but is becoming increasingly popular grated as a raw salad. Leaf celeryalso called smallageis chopped and used as a garnish and for flavouring.
Celery seeds can be used as a flavouring or spice either as whole seeds or ground and mixed with salt as celery salt. Celery salt can also be made from an extract of the roots.