A biennial or annual herbaceous plant, celery's botanical name is Apium graveolens. Grassy and hay-like, even a little bitter, the flavor of celery stalk and leaf is reminiscent of fennel and anise, but much milder.
Botanical name: Apium graveolens L.
It belongs to the same Umbelliferae family as parsley, parsnips, caraway, and carrots. Cultivated in India, China, France, and Egypt for its seeds and in the United States for its stalk and leaf, the plant has succulent roots and branching, angular stems that produce (in the second year) masses of white or greenish-white flowers. The ancient Greeks and Romans used "smallage," or wild celery, for medicinal purposes and as an aphrodisiac. A wild marsh plant, it was first cultivated by French and Italian farmers in the Middle Ages, and in the 18th century, Italians bred a white-stalked variety. Celery became popular in America in the 19th century, as a pickling spice.
Directions: To use the flakes, soften first by soaking in water for about five minutes, then draining. Or add the flakes directly to dishes that contain enough liquid to rehydrate the leaves (like soups or gravies). When substituting for fresh celery in a recipe, keep in mind that the dried flakes are stronger than the fresh stalk. They also rehydrate to about six times their dry volume! Try about 1 tablespoon of celery flakes per one small stalk of fresh celery.
Dried celery flakes are a convenient way to add celery's distinct flavor to stuffings, coleslaw, sauerkraut, curries, dressings, vegetable and egg dishes, tomato juice, sauces, salads, relishes, soups and breads. Try them in potpies, stewing chicken, and potato dishes.
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