Celery

Chopped celery

Chopped celery

I wrote off celery when I made the commitment to seasonal local eating, passing up the pale stringy stalks in the grocery store to make mirrepoix, the aromatic carrots-onions-celery base of many recipes, with just local carrots and onions.

One September a Sequim farmer showed up to a farmer’s market with celery. I squealed gleefully, bought up his stock, and chopped and froze it for cooking all winter. The next September a Bainbridge farmer turned up with celery too. I said to myself, hey, you can grow that here? When tiny celery starts showed up at Valley Nursery the next spring I snapped them up. Since then I’ve dedicated half a bed in my garden to celery – in my shaded yard it turns out to be easy to grow, although it takes pretty much the whole growing season.

Growing Celery

This year I grew nasturtiums right next to the celery. Mid-September they started collecting aphids. The attack began at the far end of the nasturtiums from the celery and moved closer until I pulled the nasturtiums and harvested the celery. A farmer I know reported losing a crop to aphids, so I was pretty pleased that the nasturtiums saved mine!

Chopped mirrepoix

Chopping mirrepoix

Like any vegetable you grow yourself, celery from your own garden tastes different. My crop this year was quite strong with a pronounced anise taste. The stalks are smaller, they’re not diet food, but they are fantastic for cooking.

Freezing celery

Cut the leaves from the stalks. Wash both leaves and stalks. Put on a pot of water and bring to a boil. Drop in the celery and boil for 2 minutes (a process called blanching). Chop the celery and put on a half sheet in the refrigerator overnight to dehumidify it a bit. Put in freezer bags by itself, or with blanched and chopped carrots and onions for a frozen mirrepoix mix. Remember to date the freezer bags!

Freezing mirrepoix

Freezing mirrepoix

I also keep the celery leaves, onion papers and carrot ends and bag them to toss in the freezer; when I bake a chicken I cover the carcass with water, add a bag of these ends, and simmer for an hour to make chicken stock.


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