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Celery

Celery is from the family Apiaceae and is botanically termed as Apium graveolens L. It is is also regarded as a herb and an aromatic plant. The wild celery is very popular and is known as Smallage or Marsh Water Parsley, Garden Celery and Wild Celery. Its seeds are tan or brown in color, ovoid and small, with a distinct aroma. The celery is warm, pungent and bitter in taste. Closest in flavor to the fennel and anise, the taste of the celery is described as similar to grass or hay. The variety called the Pascal celery is most popular for commercial cultivation. Celery is a useful herb and its seeds are used for various culinary and medicinal purposes. This strongly aromatic plant is grown, largely, for its seeds, leaves and roots. The leaf and root are used as a vegetable or spice. Celery contains nutrients like boron, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, B-complex, and C. The distilled essential oil is used for flavoring purposes. Celery root contains allergens and can cause allergic reactions in some people.

 

Cultivation
Sandy, loamy and clay soils are ideal for this plant and it can flourish reasonably well in the sunny and semi-shade areas but requires access to moist soils. A hardy plant, it can undergo severe damage when exposed to frost. Ideally, the plant should be sown in spring or autumn. The celery plant can grow to a height of over one meter tall. It has creamy-white flowers. The flowers appear from June to August and the seeds of this self-fertile plant ripen in the months of August and September. Wild celery is coarse with a distinct taste but on cultivation and through a refining process, it yields a milder and sweeter variety.

 

History
The Greeks and the Romans used the celery herb for various medicinal purposes. The celery products were used for garlands and as wreaths. It was cultivated as early as 3000 BC in the Mediterranean region. The celery plant was known to the Ancient Egyptians and Arabs. Karafs was the name given by the Arabs to the plant. It was regarded as an aphrodisiac. In the ancient times, the wild variety of the celery plant was called smallage. In the medieval times, the Italian farmers started to cultivate the celery and it was mostly considered as a highly nutrititional vegetable. In the 19th century, its seeds were first used in recipes, especially in pickle making.

 

Uses
The celery is used as a spice, natural seasoning, plant extract and as an essential oil. Celery seeds can counter rheumatism, arthritis and other diseases as it keeps the joints in shape. It has anti-inflammatory, and anti-spasmodic properties. It is an diuretic and the presence of the oil, apiol enables its utilization as a urinary antiseptic. The seeds of the celery have anti fungal properties. It can cure ailments like indigestion. Celery seeds are high on potassium and sodium, enabling the effective cleansing and detoxification of the body. It aids in the fight against the kidney diseases as also in combating of certain cancers. It is useful in relieving pain. The celery aids in the digestion of complex proteins. It keeps the urinary tract healthy and prevents any sort of infections. It increases appetite and

supplies energy. Perfumes, soaps, lotions and other cosmetic products are other uses for the celery plant. The seed is valued due to the essential oil and oleoresin present in it. These contain the various useful components like the anhydrides, sedanoid, and sedanomic.
 

The seeds are used as condiments either raw or mixed with salt. The pungent and aromatic scent of the herb enables the utilization of the herb for a variety of purposes like in soups, vegetarian dishes, meat dishes, pickling, salad dressings, breads, soups and celery salt. It is part of the cuisines of several European countries like the German and Italian cooking as also certain Eastern dishes. Celery seeds can be used wherever one wants to avoid the celery leaf. Leaves can be consumed in either the raw or cooked form and can be toxic, if eaten too much at a time. Seeds are used in lesser quantities to flavor soups and stews. The roots are edible but have to be cooked prior to consumption. The oil is derived through crushing and steam distillation. The seed is composed of two types of oils, one which is heavy and the other, a lighter variety. The essential oil of the celery contains various components like deltalimonene, selinene, sesquiterpene alcohols and sedanonic anhydride. The presence of these various compounds gives its a distinct flavor and aroma.

 
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