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Celery


Storage

Celery should not be kept at room temperature for too long since, because of its high water content, it has a tendency to wilt quickly. If you have celery that has wilted, then sprinkle it with a little water and place it in the refrigerator for several hours, where it will regain its crispness.

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Origins and Culture

The cultivated celery that we know today is derived from wild celery, which while thought to have its origins in the Mediterranean regions of northern Africa and southern Europe, is also native to areas extending east to the Himalayas. These days, we are used to store-bought celery with long stalks and sparse leaves, whereas the wild, unkempt variety is the other way around, with more leaves than stalks.

Celery has a long and prestigious history, first as a medicine and then later as a food. References to the medicinal properties of celery date back to the 9th century B.C., when celery was mentioned in the Odyssey, the famous epic by the Greek poet, Homer. The Ancient Greeks used the leaves as laurels to decorate renowned athletes, and the ancient Romans used it as a seasoning, a tradition that has carried through the centuries.

It was not until the Middle Ages, though, that celery was considered a food in itself, stalk and all. And while most people today think of celery alongside images of dips and crudit platters, eating this delicious crunchy vegetable raw did not really become popular until the 18th century in Europe.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Celery is also an excellent source of vitamin C, a vitamin that helps to support the immune system. Celery's beneficial blood pressure-reducing action has long been recognized by Chinese medicine practitioners, and now scientists have discovered how it works. Celery contains active compounds called pthalides, which relax the muscles of the arteries that regulate blood pressure, allowing these vessels to dilate. Celery is a good source of potassium and folic acid.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

To clean celery, cut off the base and leaves, then wash the leaves and stalks under running water. Cut the stalks into pieces of desired length. If the outside of the celery stalk has fibrous strings, remove them by making a thin cut into one end of the stalk and peeling away the fibers. Be sure to use the leaves. They contain the most vitamin C, calcium and potassium, but use them within a day or two as they do not store very well.

Celery should not be kept at room temperature for too long since, because of its high water content, it has a tendency to wilt quickly. If you have celery that has wilted, sprinkle it with a little water and place it in the refrigerator for several hours where it will regain its crispness.

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