Celery (céleri)

History

CeleryCelery from its scientific name Apium graveolens is a herbaceous plant of the Apiaceae family, cultivated as a vegetable plant for its leaves and its tuberous root eaten as vegetables.

Celery was first called ache, a word derived from the Latin apia, which appeared in the language in the 12th century. It means that grows in water, referring to the natural habitat of the plant. Originally, it referred to a fairly large group of plants (including parsley and lovage), before adopting the narrow meaning of celery.

Celery is said to originate from the Mediterranean basin, more precisely from the salt marshes bordering the Mediterranean. Celery was known to the ancient Greeks.

500 years before our era, the Chinese already used it in cooking. The Egyptians, for their part, harvested the leaves, stems and even seeds which served as a seasoning. It was in the 17th century that the plant was selected in Italy and would not spread to the rest of Europe until a century or two later.

Its date of introduction to America and the Caribbean is unknown.

Varieties

Celery for sale at Fort de France marketThe number of varieties is unknown but they are very numerous. In Martinique, we find the varieties Elne, Early Belle, Claret, June belle, Blanc pascal and Vert à coupe.

Celery is a demanding and difficult plant to grow that prefers soils rich in organic matter and well drained. Celery fears drought and mineral deficiencies.

Its dominant color is white. In Martinique it is a plant that grows and that is harvested all year round.

Health benefits

The medicinal virtues of celery are well known. The leaves and roots are depurative, diuretic, carminative, stomachic, tonic and strongly stimulating. The plant is also believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Thanks to its nitrates which are converted into nitrites, celery improves the flow of blood to certain areas of the brain. Celery is believed to reduce the spread of cancer cells in vitro.

Celery is very low in calories (between 10 and 20 Kcal per 100gr) and its digestion would consume more calories than the food provides.

Be careful, celery can be allergenic for some people.

Uses

CeleryCelery (root and leaf) is used in cooking both as a condiment and as a vegetable. Its leaves are often finely chopped and can be used to flavor various preparations such as soups or sauces.

In Martinique, celery is very present in our kitchen where it perfumes our dishes in meat and fish sauces, our soups, quiches or our gratins.

The seeds are used to flavor fish and cauliflower.

Ribs and peels are sometimes added to the bouquet garni.

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