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Celery is a vegetable, cultivated in Italy since ancient times; the botanical name is Apium graveolens, and in particular the dulce variety is the typical celery from the coast, with fleshy and elongated tufts, which are eaten raw or cooked, another very appreciated variety is rapaceum, or the so-called celeriac or celery hunchback, whose root is consumed. In fact the leaves of all varieties of celery are aromatic, and can be used in cooking, but those of apium graveolens var. dulce have very fleshy and thick petioles, which form a dense tuft (called celery leg), which make it particularly suitable for producing the celery clumps that we find from the greengrocer; the leaves of celeriac instead have thinner and slightly leathery petioles.
Celery is a very widespread and cultivated vegetable, with an aromatic taste, with characteristic pinnate leaves, thin, carried by thick, fleshy and fibrous petioles, which contain a lot of water; sometimes the petioles can also be branched at the apex, and therefore carry more than one leaf. The flowers are white, gathered in umbrella-shaped inflorescences, similar to those of the carrot. Generally we will hardly see the flowers of our celery plants present in the garden, because we will collect the leaves before the plant develops the flowers. The celery plant is perennial, or even two years, although in general, at the time of harvest, the whole plant is cut at the base, making it difficult to produce a new leg of celery on the same roots. If desired, it is however possible to collect only a few leaves at a time, cutting the stalk at the base, maintaining the cultivation of the same plants over time. Celery in fact does not fear the cold, even if it happens sometimes that the older plants tend to produce much more leathery and fragrant foliage, so as to make it necessary to replace the plants.
Celery is to be considered a winter vegetable, as it was once one of the few plants that survived cold, I do not sell the possibility of producing vegetables in greenhouses; today it is a vegetable present all year round on the market stalls, and in fact it is not difficult to produce celery for many months a year, even in the garden of the house. Well-developed celery plants do not fear frost very much, or even summer heat, so it is possible to do two sowing, one at the end of winter and one at the end of summer, so as to obtain celery sticks ready to be caught for the most part of the months of the year.
The small seeds are usually sown in seedbeds, in warm beds, in January or February, or outdoors in May-June; rather than sowing in an open field, it is preferable to prepare the young plants in a sheltered place, and then place them in the garden when they reach 15-20 cm in height; if desired they are generally also available in the nursery.
The celery flowerbed should be placed in a very sunny place, with a rich and loose soil, to which a good quantity of manure is mixed, before doing a careful processing, using a pitchfork or a spade; the seedlings are positioned at a distance of 25-35 cm from each other, forming well-spaced rows. Watering is provided only when the soil is dry, and it is important to constantly work the soil to remove weeds, which would otherwise steal water and nutrients from celery plants. The leaves can be harvested each time they are needed, cutting them at the base of the petiole, or waiting for the plant to reach the desired size and collect it entirely, removing the whole root from the soil, and then cutting it at the base of the celery leg.
At the supermarket and at the market we generally find two types of celery, the common one, with bright green leaves, and fibrous ribs, with an aromatic taste, and white celery, straw-colored, with more juicy and crunchy ribs and a more tasteful delicate. In fact it is the same identical variety of celery, in the first case it was cultivated in the traditional way, in the case of white celery instead the coasts were bleached. Bleaching is a process by which plants are removed from sunlight so that they lose chlorophyll, resulting in a more delicate taste, as is also the case with Trevisano radicchio. To do this it is necessary, first of all, to place the young plants at a good distance from each other, so that between the plants there is room for the material that will go to mulch the whole legs of celery, completely covering the petioles of the leaves. It generally proceeds about a month before the harvest, at first the leaves are simply tied together, to better compact the head, using raffia; therefore the sunlight is excluded from most of the petioles, covering them with the earth almost up to the apex, leaving only the soft and green leaves outside; if you wish, you can also do this by using newspaper, or bread paper. After about a month, the tufts are unearthed and collected, removing the outer leaves and topping the head, so as to keep only the lighter and more succulent part.
Celeriac is another variety of celery, Apium graveolens, var. rapaceum; of this celery the leaves are used only rarely, to take advantage of the very aromatic flavor, for example in the fried, as they are very compact and leathery, and very fragrant; of the celeriac is consumed instead the root, which has a compact consistency, similar to that of the potato tubers, and conspicuous dimensions, of roundish shape, almost as big as a small melon. The celeriac is eaten raw or cooked, and has a more delicate taste than the leaf or ribbed celery. The cultivation is similar, salo which generally tends to cultivate celery turnip mainly during the cold months, as in the cold the flavor and consistency of the root improve considerably. SI chooses a sunny plot and the small plants, about 15-20 cm high, are planted; the space between the rows is about 25 cm; being a winter cultivation in general the cultivation treatments to be performed are minor, since the cold inhibits the development of most of the weeds, and moreover the cool and humid climate allows us to thin out the waterings, which will be provided only when the soil is very dry.
The root is used in the celeriac, which therefore must have the possibility of developing: we therefore prepare a plot with a very soft and sandy soil, so that the roots can expand freely; as with turnips and carrots, if placed in a compact clay soil, the celeriac develops very small and hard roots, difficult to eat.
Celery legs and celeriac roots are harvested when they have reached the right size; the roots of celeriac can be kept in a cool and dry place for a few weeks, after which they begin to produce mold, and they must therefore be consumed quickly; sweet celery, on the other hand, can be kept in the fridge for a few days, and then it must be eaten whole or frozen.
Unfortunately, the methods of freezing do not allow to preserve all the qualities of celery, be it beetroot or sweet, as the crunchy leaves and the pasty consistency of the celeriac tend to be ruined by placing these vegetables in the freezer. For this reason we tend to plant and harvest these vegetables to climb, so as to always have vegetables ready to eat in the garden, while others are developing for the months to come. However, frozen celery can be used in soups, sautéed sauces, and therefore it tends to freeze it already cut and portioned; the internal frozen celery is not usually used raw or in salads, because the consistency changes completely. As far as celeriac is concerned, it can be cooked in pies or pies, which can later be frozen.
Celery in the kitchen
In Italy, celery is a vegetable widely used in cooking; mainly the ribs of green celery are a main ingredient of the sauté, a mixture of celery, carrot and onion, which is used as a base for a large quantity of recipes, from boiled mixed with vegetable broth, from vegetable soups to ragù alla bolognese . Celery is also used raw, in salads, or whole in pinzimonio, or accompanied by sauces, both green celery and white, with a more delicate taste. Celery is also a fundamental ingredient of caponata, where it is accompanied with aubergines and often also with courgettes. As an ingredient we find it in tripe-based dishes, in all kinds of soups, in tomato sauces, but in general in these dishes its aroma is not appreciated, as it is used in small quantities compared to other ingredients.
Celery root, or hunchback celery, is used only in some parts of Italy, and it often happens that it is difficult to find in shops; before being eaten it must be skinned and carefully cleaned, let us not forget that it is a root. You can add raw to the salad, grating it finely; or it is prepared cooked, sliced and boiled, seasoned with oil and lemon, or used in soups, pies or pies, as if it were a potato; the taste is very delicate, reminiscent of celery, but it also has a sweeter and hazelnut-like aftertaste. It is a little used vegetable, and it is a pity because it has an excellent taste and consistency, maintaining the dietary qualities of ribbed celery.
Celery - Apium graveolens: Celery as a healthy cure-all
An urban legend tells that celery is a vegetable burns calories, as more calories would be needed to digest it than it releases itself. This story is not true, but surely celery is a low-calorie vegetable, especially considering that it is very rich in fiber and water, and the crunchy texture makes it difficult to eat, and therefore easily gives a sense of satiation, even without eat so many coasts. In diets celery is always recommended, as it is rich in flavor even without any seasoning, and the consistency is pleasant to the palate, therefore it is an excellent substitute for very caloric sweet and savory snacks, such as crisps or packaged snacks; in addition, it is also easy to prepare, just remove a few leaves from the head, wash it thoroughly and portion it into strips, which are always kept in the fridge in a plastic food bag.
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Celery is a vegetable that produces a large stalk of leaves, with a fleshy petiole; it is cultivated starting
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