Celery has long been native to marshy regions extending from Sweden southward to Algeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Ancient Oriental people gathered wild celery and brewed it as a medicinal herb for stomach maladies and for a general tonic. Wild celery has a bitter flavor and pungent odor. The early physicians seemed to think that the worse a concoction tasted, the better it was for the patient. The ancient Greeks valued it highly, and awarded celery as a prize to winners in many of their sport contests.
There is mention of a cultivated variety of celery grown in France in 1623, and in 1776 celery seed was sold in England for the growing of plants to be used in flavoring soups and stews. Celery has been grown commercially in the United States since about 1880.
Celery belongs to the same plant family as carrots, parsley, fennel, caraway, and anise. The characteristic flavor of these plants is from the volatile oils found in the stems, leaves, and seeds.
California and Florida are the two leading celery producing states, but celery is also grown in many other states in the eastern and western United States. Celery is available all year, but its peak season is November through May. Study the market in your state and plan to use celery in abundance during the months when celery is in season.
The most desirable celery is of medium length, thickness, and solidity. The stalks should be brittle enough to snap easily. Pithy or stringy celery is not good to eat and probably has less vitamin and mineral content.
The pithiness of a celery stalk can be detected by pressing or twisting the stalk, and stringiness can be detected by breaking the stalk. Celery that has formed a seed stem probably has a poor flavor and may be bitter.
Celery is highly perishable, and should be kept refrigerated. To prepare for eating, scrub and wash thorottghly to be sure all poisonous sprays are removed. Before the tops of celery are used, they should be separated, and washed several times. If you are cooking celery tops, douse. them in water that is slightly warn1 to insure a thorough washing.
If you are cooking celery, steam it only long enough to break down the fibers, or cook it a few minutes in a vessel with a tight lid. Use very little water. Cooked celery takes only about three hours to digest. Celery is also delicious in soup and as a seasoning in almost all cooked food.
Celery is fairly high in roughage and low in calories. Its high water content makes it an especially good food to eat with foods that are more concentrated, particularly heavy starches. It is an alkaline food and should be classified as a protective food. The greener stalks of celery are an especially good source of vitamin A and celery is also a good source of vitamins B1 and G. It is rich in chlorine, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
As an all-around maintainer of good health, celery juice gets top billing. It is good by itself or mixed with other vegetable juices,and goes best with carrot, carrot and parsley, or apple. Celery can be juiced with fruits, vegetables, or nuts for a complete, easily digested meal.
Celery is generally known as a sodium food, and sodium is what we call the youth maintainer in the body. Sodium helps keep us young and active, and the muscles limber and pliable. Whenever there is a stiffness in the joints and creaking or cracking in the knees, we know we are lacking in sodium. Sodium is the one element that most people lack.
When the tissues, joints, and arteries get hard, there is too much calcium in the body, and a softer element is needed. The element that counteracts calcium best is sodium. It helps keep calcium in solution.
Celery should be eaten often because it is one of the best foods for keeping the body well. It neutralizes acids and is a good blood cleanser. It has protective properties that are beneficial to both the brain and the nervous system. Celery is an excellent food for people suffering from arthritis, neuritis, and rheumatism. It can help to clear up high blood pressure.
Sodium is one of the chemical elements needed so much in the walls of the stomach and in the intestinal tract. Celery is particularly good for these parts of the body. However, many times celery can be very irritating to a sensitive stomach because it contains a great deal of fiber. If irritation results, celery juice should be substituted. It is also best to avoid using raw celery leaves if there is any stomach irritation. Broths made of celery leaves, with other vegetables and milk or cream added, are good. to take for stomach disturbance. The milk or cream has a wonderful soothing effect on the stomach, especially when there is excessive acidity. A broth made with celery and other vegetables is also good in an elimination diet.
Celery aids digestion, counteracts acidosis, halts fermentation, and purifies the bloodstream. Celery juice can be handled and tolerated by most people, especially children. However, many people prefer diluted celery juice, and it is very good when combined with pineapple or apple juice. Apple and celery juice combined is great for neutralizing the rheumatic acids in the body. Combine celery, parsley, and asparagus juice for kidney disorders; celery and papaya juice for asthma; celery and grapefruit juice with a pinch of pure cream of tartar for colds or sinus troubles; celery and parsley juice for fevers, gout, or arthritis; and, if t~e condition of the teeth is poor, combine beet greens, parsley, celery juice, and green kale. It is a non-starchy vegetable.
Celery is best eaten raw, preferably in the form of combination vegetable salads. Use it as a balance in high protein salads such as chicken, tuna, or shrimp. Celery is particularly flavorful when cooked with tomatoes or green peppers. Its pot liquor is especially good as a base in soups and sauces.
The leaves of celery are rich in potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The raw leaves or tops are excellent irt the treatment of diabetes. Because they are so tough, they should be chopped, liquefied, and added to other vegetables to lessen the~ir strong taste. When eaten raw, the leaves are beneficial to the nerves and disorders resulting from nervous conditions. Celery leaves are also good for all acid conditions of the body.
NUTRIENTS IN ONE POUND (one pund of celery contains 93 percent water)
Protein: 1.8 g
Fat: 3.18 g
Carbohydrates: 51.4 g
Calcium: 63.5 mg
Phosphorus: 50 mg
Iron: 2.7 mg
Vitamin A: 182 I.U.
Thiamine: 0.13 mg
Riboflavin: 0.09 mg
Niacin: .45 mg
Ascorbic acid: 55 mg