Celery can be tricky to grow. Give it:
- Warm soil and cool air for germination – soil temperatures of 70 to 75°F (21 to 24°C) and air temperatures of 60 to 70°F (16 to 21°C).
- Nutrient-rich soil; use well-rotted manure, compost and an organic 5-10-10 fertilizer.
- Plenty of moisture.
- Full sun except in very hot areas.
- Cool growing temperatures.
Celery Leaves as Garnish
Celery and parsley are members of the same family. You can use celery leaves in similar ways to the ways you would use parsley leaves. Surround a roast with parsley leaves. Garnish potato or corn chowder with some chopped celery leaves. Place a small frond of leaves on a deviled egg. Float a few whole celery leaves on a soup or stew.
Celery Leaves as Flavoring
Celery leaves typically have a brighter, stronger flavor than the stalks. You can add fresh or dried chopped leaves to stir-fries, stock or soup. The dried leaves and seeds can be crushed with a mortar and pestle or ground in a blender and added to salt for use in seasoning. Chopped leaves can be added to scrambled eggs or a frittata or sprinkled on mashed potatoes.
Celery Leaves in Pesto
Like many other herbs, celery leaves can be turned into pesto. Use good quality olive oil and Parmesan cheese. You can use the celery leaves alone or mix them with other herbs like basil. Once you have the pesto, drop a dollop on a bowl of soup. Make crostini with the pesto, Italian or French bread, garden-fresh tomatoes, goat or feta cheese and a little salt.
Celery Leaves in a Salad
Unlike parsley, which can overwhelm the flavor of lettuce, celery leaves are less robust. Mix them with several different lettuces in colors of both green and red for stronger eye appeal. You can cut the individual leaves from the stalks and mix into the salad, or chop the leaves into smaller fragments.
Choosing Celery Leaves
You can use celery leaves from either blanched or unblanched plants. The former will have a more robust flavor. You can start to harvest the leaves when the plants are at least eight inches tall. Choose the darker green outer stalks. Cut the leaf stalks, wash in cold water and store for a few days in an open plastic bag lined with a damp paper towel.