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Cooking Fresh Celery

Some of the very dark green celery on the market can be somewhat bitter and stringier than the lighter varieties. Some modern dark green celery, however, is just as sweet as the whiter or light green varieties. Often it is just chance that determines what you find at the market.
There is some confusion about how to refer to celery. The head, or bunch, is really called a stalk. Individual stems are called ribs. In this website, I always use the word rib to mean an individual stem, including in some cases the leaves at the top.

Celery hearts are the smallest, center most, lightest color ribs in each stalk. You can make true celery hearts by breaking off the darker outer ribs of each stalk, trimming the base to remove the tough stem, and cutting off the tops. Supermarkets often sell plastic packages containing 2 or 3 celery "hearts," but these are generally simply whole stalks that have been trimmed of most of their leaves.

The whole stalk is usable. Even tough, stringy outer ribs cab be cut up and added to stocks. The leaves are wonderful in soups and stews. In fact, celery leaves can be dried for several hours in a 200F oven, cooled and crumbled. Store them in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and add them to soups, stews sauces, and salads for a delicious celery flavor. To microwave, put a single layer of washed and dried celery leaves on a double layer of paper towels and microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Raw celery is a delicious ingredient in many salads and makes a wonderful addition to a crudites platter. The ribs can be stuffed with cheese or other fillings, including peanut butter, for snacks or cocktail party nibbles.

Because celery has very high water content, it is extremely low in calories. For this reason celery sticks are usually a large part of a dieter's snack time fare. The crunchy texture is very satisfying. Braised celery is also a delicious low fat, low calorie vegetable. Celery contains folic acid and some vitamin C.

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