Thursday, May 31, 2012

Using Dried Celery Leaves

I had read somewhere that celery could be hard to grow in a home garden.  Last year I tried to grow them from seed.  It was a long process.  The seeds were sown indoors on 1/23/11 and babied until they were transplanted outside on 5/5/11.  Once outside however, the celery needed virtually no care at all.  They quickly flourished.  When I finally harvested the first plant on 8/15/11, I thought it was 2 plants but it was actually one enormous plant!  It weighed 4.6 pounds.
The celery I grew had lots of lovely leaves.  It seemed like such a waste to toss them into the compost bin.  You know some countries think Americans are crazy for tossing the leaves!  I decided to save them to dry.  I tried drying them in the oven.  Later in the season, I invested in a dehydrator.  I dried more leaves in the machine.  
I liked the machine because I was able to dry a lot of leaves all at once with minimal extra heating of the house during the summer.  It worked out really well.  
After they were done drying, I crushed the leaves into smaller pieces.

I keep them in an airtight container and use them in my cooking whenever I want a taste of celery but don't have any in the refrigerator.  I also use it in place of dried parsley in recipes.   
This week I used my stash to make split pea soup.  Although my soup had celery in it, I added a few tablespoons of dried celery leaves extra to give it extra depth and flavor.  The split pea soup was delicious! 

**Linking up to Robin's Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard at The Garden of Eden**


Robin said...

Celery definitely takes a long time to grow. I have never had a problem growing it either.

I just started drying and using some celery leaves last year. Thanks for the additional suggestions on using the dried leaves.

Julie said...

Great idea to use the celery leaves. I attempted celery for the first time this year. It's only producing a single, thick stalk and is growing tall. I'm guessing this is what bolting celery looks like. I don't think it likes our very warm temperatures.

~Holly~ said...

Robin-Celery loves our cool Pacific NW weather. Glad you were able to dry the leaves too! I'll be interested to see how you use it.

Julie-I'm not sure what bolted celery looks like. I hope that's not what's happening to yours! I hope it makes it!

foodgardenkitchen said...

I think people say it's hard to grow because they blanch in to keep it white. So if you go through the trouble of making sure the stalks are always covered by dirt or some other material, I would imagine they would be "hard to grow."

I prefer real, unblanched celery to the relatively tasteless white stuff you get at the grocery store under the "Celery" label :)

In regards to using the leaves, we use the fresh leaves in the same way I would use parsley - in soups or tuna/ham salad. We also freeze the leaves and add them generously (while frozen - do not defrost the leaves or you'll just have mush) to the chicken stock I make. (Yes, we save all of our poultry bones in freezer bags and periodically make a large batch of stock, which then gets frozen in 2 quart containers for future use).

~Holly~ said...

foodgardenkitchen-Thanks! Yeah, I elected not to blanch last year and I loved the celery like that. thanks for the tips on using the leaves! I have so much that I'm always looking for new ways.