I’ve been enjoying wonderful celery from the farmers’ market. The Twin Springs stall has been carrying big bunches with long stalks and loads of leaves since early October. I’ve only had to buy it twice all season because the bunches are so generous. I’ve used some to make cream of celery soup. The rest has ended up in sauce, pasta e fagioli, tuna salad, giardiniera, and so on. I won’t go on about how much better fresh celery is than supermarket celery; I did that last year. But I do want to share a couple of tips.
The best way to store celery is to cut the stalks from the leaves (hat tip to Aubrey at Twin Springs for that). Dampen several pieces of paper towels (without separating them) and wrap the stalks and leaves separately. Place them in produce storage bags and put them in the crisper drawer in the fridge. Stored this way, the celery stays fresh and crunchy for weeks.
The other tip has to do with the leaves. For awhile I had more than I could use in recipes. I hated the thought of tossing them because they carry so much flavor. Then I came up with this solution: homemade celery salt. It couldn’t be easier. All you do is chop up a big mound of celery leaves until it is reduced to a small mound. Let it dry for a couple of days, then mix it with fine sea salt.
This herbal seasoned salt has all kinds of uses. I’ve put it in soups and sauces, scrambled it into eggs, and folded it into tuna salad. I’ll be using it Thanksgiving to season the bird and the stuffing, and possibly the mashed potatoes. It’s definitely going into my next batch of deviled eggs.
And let’s not forget the most obvious use: as a garnish for the rim of your Bloody Mary glass ~ or in other savory cocktails.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and well-seasoned Thanksgiving. Cheers!
Most supermarket celery is devoid of leaves (removing the leaves gives the stalks longer shelf life) so unless you grow your own you'll need to hit the farmers' market to find full bunches. I recommend a sharp chef's knife or a mezzaluna to mince the leaves rather than a food processor, which tends to shred. Use celery salt to season beef stew, hearty soups, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, tuna or egg salad, savory cocktails, or whatever strikes your fancy.
- 4 packed cups (2 ounces) celery leaves
- 3/4 to 1 cup fine sea salt
Wash and dry the celery leaves. Mince them finely with a chef's knife or mezzaluna. You should end up with about 1 cup or slightly less.
Spread the minced celery leaves on a rimmed baking sheet and leave them out to dry completely, about 1 day. Measure the quantity ~ the volume should be reduced to about 1/2 cup or slightly less. Put the leaves in a bowl and add twice the volume of salt; if you have 1/2 cup leaves, add 1 cup salt. Mix thoroughly.
Place the mixture in the work bowl of a food processor and process until thoroughly combined and finely ground. If the salt mixture feels at all damp, spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet and let dry completely. Store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid (I use a jam jar).