We all know celery stalks are delicious and have many health benefits but once we’ve cut off and used the crunchy stalks what do we do with all those lush green celery leaves? Celery leaves are often overlooked and thrown away, but celery leaves are entirely edible and they are just as delicious as celery stalks. So here are some clever ideas for using celery leaves including how to preserve them, using them in your cooking, and recipe ideas to try.
Can You Eat Celery Leaves?
You can definitely eat celery leaves. In fact, most of the calcium, potassium, and vitamin C are stored in the leaves.
Some people believe celery leaves, like rhubarb leaves, are poisonous but this is not the case at all. While rhubarb leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid, which can cause kidney problems in high doses, celery leaves do not.
Many plants and leafy green vegetables, including celery, contain very small amounts of toxic elements. But we would have to eat tons of them every day for a long period of time to feel any negative effects. The benefits of eating fresh vegetables wholeheartedly outweigh any negatives.
Celery leaves are delicious and good for you too. Eating them not only contributes to your leafy green vegetable quota, but it’s also an amazing way to reduce your food waste.
And if you are growing your own celery, eating the celery leaves is another way to eat more from your garden.
Can You Eat Celery Leaves Raw?
Yes, celery leaves can be eaten raw! The raw celery leaves are not only delicious but very nutritious as well. The thicker, more fibrous outer celery leaves can be a little bitter if eaten raw and are a better option for adding to stews and soups, and other cooked dishes.
While the lighter, softer inner celery leaves are sweeter and have a milder celery flavor than the outer leaves. Interestingly though, all the celery leaves have a stronger flavor than the celery stalk. The inner leaves are delicious raw and are ideal for adding to salads, pesto, and smoothies.
How To Freeze Celery Leaves
Celery leaves are just as, if not more, nutritious as the stalks and can be used in a multitude of ways. Their only catch is that they do not last as long as the stalks and tend to wilt and wither within a few days. If you have plenty of celery leaves and you want to save them for a future culinary adventure, try freezing them.
Like most vegetables, celery is made up largely of water. For this reason, when celery leaves defrost after being frozen they will no longer be crunchy but will be mushy and limp but still packed with flavor. Frozen celery leaves are therefore ideal for use in cooked dishes but will not be useful in salads.
Freeze Celery Leaves in Freezer Bags
To freeze the leaves you do not need to blanch them first. Merely rinse them in a little water as you would when preparing them for a meal so they are ready to use straight from the deep freeze.
You can place them in a freezer bag as-is and take out leaves as you need them. Make sure to dry them well before placing them in the bag or they will be difficult to pull apart when frozen.
Roll Celery Leaves for Freezing
For a neater look, carefully stack leaves one on top of the other then roll them tightly into a cylinder shape. Place the cylinder celery leaves in a freezer bag or roll them in cling wrap and seal tightly.
If using a freezer bag, you can secure the bag with rubber bands so the shape holds. Then when a recipe calls for a little celery leaf you can remove the celery cylinder from the bag and cut off the amount you need and replace the rest in the freezer.
Freeze Celery Leaves with Olive Oil, Onion and Garlic
Another way to freeze celery leaves is to cook them up with a little olive oil, onion, and garlic. This concoction can then be put into small muffin tins or ice trays and placed in the freezer. Once they are frozen they can be removed from the container and sealed in a freezer bag.
All you have to do when the recipe calls for celery is pop a celery ice cube into the pot. The celery leaf and onion stew can also be pureed before freezing. This will add the celery flavor to your dish without the stringy texture.
How To Dry Celery Leaves
1. Air Dry Celery Leaves
To dry celery leaves, wash and pat them dry gently with a clean cloth or paper towel. Place them on a clean drying rack or a cake cooling rack. Make sure the leaves do not touch or overlap. It should take about five days for the leaves to dry completely.
You may need to adjust their position after a few days to ensure all areas are getting enough air. Once the celery leaves are dry and crispy you can crush them and store them in an airtight container in a cool dark place. If they are completely dry they should last for a year or even longer.
2. Oven Dry Celery Leaves
If you do not have the patience to wait 5 days you can dry celery leaves in the oven.
Place the washed leaves on the oven rack or on a baking sheet. Turn the oven to its lowest temperature, around 150°F (65°C). If your oven has a fan setting turn this on. It should take 6-8 hours for the leaves to dry out.
It is a good idea to check the leaves and give them a turn after a few hours but is not absolutely necessary if you’d rather leave them overnight. Once the leaves are completely dry and crunch easily, break them up and store them in an airtight container.
3. Microwave Dry Celery Leaves
If you’re looking for an even faster drying time, you can dry celery leaves in the microwave.
You might be interested to know there are some people who will claim microwaving celery leaves doesn’t work. They claim the leaves will only end up being soft and not dry and crispy.
So I did my own experiment to find out. And I can tell you, drying celery leaves in the microwave works. Here’s how.
Place washed and dried celery leaves in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate lined with two sheets of paper kitchen towel. Then place another sheet of kitchen towel over the leaves. Microwave the leaves on high for 1 minute and check them.
I continued to microwave the celery leaves for an additional 2 minutes, checking again after each minute. If the leaves are not completely dry, put them in again for 20-30 seconds at a time checking in between.
You will know the celery leaves are completely dry when they crumble rather than bend. If the kitchen towel feels wet at any stage you can replace it with a dry one.
Crush the leaves and store them in an airtight container to be used at your leisure.
4. Dehydrator Dry Celery Leaves
If you have a dehydrator, drying your celery leaves is easy. Arrange the washed and dried celery leaves on the dehydrator trays with plenty of airflow around them.
Set the temperature to around 135°F (57°C) and dry them for 6-10 hours. Drying times usually depend on the air humidity.
Once the celery leaves are completely dry, proceed to crush them up and store them in an airtight container.
Dried celery leaves can last years if dried out completely, stored in an airtight jar or container, and away from direct sunlight. They can be used in place of parsley in your cooking and they can be made into celery salt – see recipe below.
Celery Leaf Salt Recipe
Although celery salt is usually made with celery seeds and salt, using the celery leaves is just as delicious. You can turn your dried celery leaves, from one of the above drying methods, into celery salt with this simple recipe.
The ratio of dried celery leaves to salt is 2:1 though you can increase this ratio to include more celery as per personal preference.
Ingredients for Celery Leaf Salt:
6 tablespoons of dried celery leaves
3 tablespoons of quality sea salt. I used a ground Himalayan Pink Rock Salt.
Method for Making Celery Salt:
If your celery leaves are already crunched up enough, you can simply combine the leaves with the salt. Or if you would like a finer celery salt consistency, you can use a spice grinder to grind up the dried celery leaves with the salt.
Yields about 1/2 cup. Store in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight. Celery salt is delicious in soups, stews, as a seasoning for popcorn, sprinkled on eggs, or potato salad to name just a few ideas.
How To Eat Celery Leaves
Fresh celery leaves can be substituted into almost any recipe that calls for celery. Keep in mind that celery leaves have a stronger flavor than the stalks so you may need less to achieve the same effect.
French cuisine uses celery in most savory dishes. Together with onion and carrot, it is known as mirepoix which forms the base of the recipe.
Celery leaves are ideal in stock as they impart maximum flavor and you don’t need the crunch of the stalks.
The leaves are perfect in soups and stews as they cook up completely imparting their aromatic flavor.
Fresh celery leaves are delicious in tossed green salads where they can be left whole or shredded into coleslaws and oriental salads.
Fresh or frozen leaves can be added to smoothies for an aromatic, fresh flavor and a burst of nutrients. Some celery leaves can be bitter so it’s best to have a nibble of a leaf before adding a handful to your smoothie. The small inner celery leaves are usually sweeter.
Finely chopped celery leaves are delicious in scrambled egg. They add flavor without adding a weird crunch that you get from the stalks.
Celery leaves can be substituted for parsley in recipes or as a garnish.
Celery pesto is delicious. Just follow a recipe for basil pesto replacing the basil with celery leaves. Celery pesto can be used wherever basil pesto is used.
Most dishes will really pop with flavor and nutrition when chopped celery leaves are added.
Recipe Ideas Using Celery Leaves
Here are a few delicious recipe ideas using celery leaves.
Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds and Parmesan from Cookie and Kate is a deliciously tasty salad using celery stalks and leaves. The addition of dates, almonds, and parmesan really elevate this salad to gourmet status.
Cream of Celery Leaf and Scallion Soup found on From a Chefs Kitchen is a delicious creamy soup with lovely flavors specifically using celery leaves. It’s perfect for lunch with friends and family.
Simple Celery Soup from Feasting at Home is wonderfully creamy and comforting celery soup using common ingredients. Celery leaves are fried and used for a crispy garnish.
Celery Leaf Pesto from Everyday Delicious is milder than most pesto but is just as delicious. You can use it anywhere you would use basil pesto.
Apple, Celery, and Cucumber Smoothie from Love My Salad. A delicious smoothie recipe packed with goodness and flavor using both the celery stalks and the celery leaves. It’s the perfect start to a summer morning.
Caramelized Celery Linguine from The Food In My Beard. This fresh-tasting recipe uses both celery leaves and celery stalks.
Celery Leaves “Tsukudani” (Celery Leaves Boiled in Soy Sauce) from Recipe Yamasa is a very simple recipe for using celery leaves and serving them with rice.
Celery Leaves Mazegohan from Hiroko’s Recipes. Stir-fried celery leaves and thin stalks with delicious Asian flavors. Combine with rice for a tasty meal.
Next time you grow or buy a bunch of celery, know that you are getting double the bang for your buck. Because now, instead of throwing those leafy celery tops onto the compost heap, you can be adding them to your stews, soups, and salads. Or maybe they will become the star of the dish in pasta and pesto, the eating options are endless!
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