Considering that humans have been planting celery for 3,000 years, it must be one of the oldest vegetables around. However, the use of celery as food is relatively recent since this occurred only in the 1600’s. In ages past, celery was regarded as medicine rather something to be eaten.
Celery is as an herb belonging to the plant family, Apiaceae, and is closely related to fennel and carrots. It has its origins in the Mediterranean region but it is now grown in many parts of the world. Despite its very ancient history, the celery continues to be a well-loved vegetable even today; and it is easy to understand why, based on these facts.
- The celery’s importance is not only due to its value as a food source but also because of the medicinal and cosmetic benefits that it provides.
- Weight watcher love munching on celery stalks. Aside from being extremely low-calorie (10 calories per stalk), it is low in sodium but high in fiber and water content.
- A type of celery that has a reputation of its own is the celeriac. Unlike celery that is grown for its stalks, the celeriac is primarily grown for its root. Celeriac root is used as an ingredient in stews and soups, but can also be eaten raw.
- Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who is known as the “Father of Western Medicine,” recognized the nerve-soothing capabilities of celery. Modern research proves that the old doctor was right; since celery is found to contain magnesium and essential oils that help regulate the nervous system and have a calming effect.
- The crunchiness of celery comes from its tough cell walls that help keep the herb upright. Soaking the stalks in ice water is a very effective way of maintaining crispness.
- Celery seeds are used as spice.
- The ancient Romans used to wear celery wreaths during a night of drinking to avoid experiencing the effects of a hangover the next morning.
- There is a rule of thumb to follow when buying celery: the darker the color of the stalks, the stronger their flavor will be.
- In ancient Greece, an athlete who won in a competition was presented with bunches of celery.
- Celery has androsterone, a hormone that is released by males via the sweat glands that attracts females. This gives credence to the belief of the ancient Romans that the celery was an aphrodisiac. It is said that the well-known Italian lover, Casanova, ate lots of celery to maintain his stamina.
- Italians were the first to use celery as food. The vegetable was one of the ingredients in an old dessert recipe that was unearthed in the island of Pompeii, outlining instructions on how to roast chopped celery in an oven and mixing it with honey and ground pepper.
- Celery seeds are so small that only one ounce is needed to plant a whole acre.