Celery is often mistaken for a vegetable but it is actually an herb that is native to the warm Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions of the world. The celery we know and easily recognize today with their large, upright stalks was not developed until the late 1700s and modern science continues to make improvements on the herb as now there are even string-free varieties available to choose from.
Celery is rather high in fiber and offers an impressive amount of vitamins C and K and its beneficial fruits or tiny seeds are often used for flavoring foods as well. Fresh and crisp celery offers a distinctive crunch for salads and when it is cooked it provides great flavor for soups, stews, and sauces.
Celery is also a primary component of stuffing and can be used in so many different dishes including cream of celery soup, chicken, egg, and tuna salads, rice dishes, and also casseroles. Raw celery is even good for serving as an appetizer along with cream cheese, peanut butter, or vegetable dip.
When buying celery, look for stalks without any wilted or brown leaves on top and the individual stalks should be firm and unblemished. Although celery is available all year long it tends to taste best when it is harvested during the fall and winter months in warmer climates.
To prepare celery, simply rinse each stalk thoroughly to remove any mud and dirt and then remove the white bottoms and leafy tops before cutting or chopping.
Celery will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks when stored loosely in a plastic bag. Submerging in cold water for a minute or two will help to restore some of its original crispiness if the stalks have just started to soften as celery is mostly made of water. Once the leaves of the celery stalk appear wilted that is a good indication the celery itself is not fresh.