Don’t let any part of your celery go to waste! I share my ideas for using celery leaves and pieces, and show you how to make celery salt and celery powder. They’re frugal, healthy seasonings that also happen to be delicious!
Lately I have a couple of big problems.
I just cleared out the clothes that were too big for me from my closet, and you know how many long sleeved shirts I have that I can wear without looking ridiculous?
Three! (And I bought two of them in the last week. Sigh.)
It’s a problem I always dreamed of having, but now that the cooler weather is coming, I really need to get shopping. (I also need a great pair of jeans, so if you’ve got suggestions, throw them my way!)
One of the things that brought me to this state of having nothing to wear is that I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to celery.
I know that sounds weird, but…
Despite the fact that I was eating a pretty healthy diet overall, I couldn’t lose weight, and I just didn’t feel right.
Beginning in March, I started making changes to my diet, little by little, and have lost just over 35 pounds since then. I’ll talk more about my weight loss journey some day soon (as soon as I can get some good before and after pictures together), but today I would like to emphasize what a great role celery has served throughout the process.
I’d also like to help solve another problem that comes with a celery addiction…
I’ve always liked celery, but I never really was good about cleaning it and having it ready in the fridge to snack on. Plus, let’s face it, it can get a little bit boring to just eat celery all of the time (or at least it seems that way at first.)
I’ve gotten in the habit of making sure to have lots of nice, clean celery stalks cut into snack sized pieces, waiting for me in the fridge. I was already eating a mostly paleo diet, but I still had a lot more cravings for other types of snacks. I filled up on a lot of nuts and seeds, but didn’t use vegetables as a snack as much as I could have.
Since then, I’ve found that if I’m craving something sweet, I can make the craving go away by eating celery dipped in (unsweetened) almond butter. Wanting something salty? I reach for celery dipped in homemade aioli or some other homemade sauce. (I’ll have to share some of my recipes for those soon.)
OK- don’t think I’m living off of celery by any means. In fact, you can eat too much celery, especially if you make it one of the main staples in your diet, at the expense of other healthy foods. I’ve read that if you need to limit your sodium levels, that you should watch the amount of celery you eat (but seeing as my blood pressure is incredibly low, that isn’t an issue for me). So, no, I’m not living off of celery; I’ve just been eating a lot more of it lately, and it has become one of my “go-to” snacks when I rarely or almost never ate it before.
At first it was difficult for me to make some of these changes. What’s interesting, though, is that I’ve found that my tastes have completely changed since the beginning of the year. I find myself actually craving celery sticks, rather than crackers, and find myself reaching for them almost every day. That nice, crunchy clean taste just really appeals to me often now.
My new addiction to celery brought me to another problem…
You end up with a lot of leftover celery leaves and other not-so-pretty bits and pieces that you don’t really want to be dipping into your jar of almond butter. 😉
What to do with celery leaves?
Celery leaves are actually quite tasty and incredibly versatile.
- Add celery leaves to salads: My aunt likes to cut up the leaves and add them to her green salads. I had never tried it myself until I went to her house for lunch one day. I was surprised to find that it can be a delicious addition to change up and add a burst of flavor to your raw greens. (I think that it especially pairs up well with salads with apple slices.) I think the best leaves for salads are the lighter green, younger leaves, but that is a matter or taste, of course.
- Add celery leaves and stalk pieces to stocks and bone broths: I like to freeze some of the leaves, and the small, ugly stalk bits I cut from my snacking pieces, so I can have them handy whenever I make stock or bone broth. Celery is probably my favorite vegetable for adding to stocks and broths. Not only is it incredibly healthy, adding its vitamins and antioxidants to your already healthy broths, but it also adds delicious flavor. I also often blend celery leaves and stalk pieces, along with onions, into soups with an immersion blender to give them great flavor and a thicker consistency. (That was a tip I learned from another one of my aunts.)
- Chop celery leaves and use them as an herb. Celery leaves make a great replacement for fresh parsley in many recipes. You can chop the fresh leaves and add them to salsa and homemade salad dressings, for example. You can also dry the leaves and crumble them, using them as you would dried parsley.
- Make pesto sauce with celery leaves. My son is so obsessed with the flavor of basil that I still haven’t gotten around to trying this myself, but I’ve seen many people comment on how delicious celery leaf pesto can be! If you’d like to try it yourself, exchange the basil leaves with celery leaves in my recipe for homemade pesto sauce.
- Make celery powder with leftover leaves and ugly stalk pieces. This is actually probably my favorite use of leftover celery leaves and bits and pieces. It’s simple enough to dehydrate the leftover pieces and grind them into a fine powder once they are fully dry. The nice thing about celery powder is that it doesn’t take up much space at all and it keeps very well. I like to add it to soups, sauces, and all sorts of other dishes to add flavor and nutrients.
- Make celery salt. Celery salt is just a modified use of celery powder. It is often made with ground celery seed that is mixed with salt. Don’t have celery seeds? You can also make a wonderful celery salt using the leaves and other not-so-pretty celery bits. Celery salt is often asked for in recipes, but I like to use it in place of regular sauce in all sorts of recipes to add extra nutrients and flavor!
- Save for chickens or compost. If you don’t want to use the celery leaves yourself, don’t throw them away! When I’m short on time (and my freezer is full, and I have an abundance of celery powder on hand already), I throw them to my hens and they seem to love them. You can also add them to your compost bin.
Should you blanch celery before dehydrating it?
It is often suggested that you should blanch vegetables before dehydrating them. Blanched veggies are said to be more tender, rehydrate faster, and have a reduced cooking time.
Blanching consists of taking a food, dunking it briefly in boiling water, and then dunking it into cool water to stop the food from cooking.
The theory here is that blanching will deactivate enzymes in the veggies that help decompose them and turn them brown. It’s supposed to extend storage time by keeping the veggies from browning or picking up off-flavors after several months of storage. So, if you are using stalk bits and want to keep the celery powder for months and months, you may be able to keep it tasting fresh for longer if you blanch them first.
While I’ve read that blanching can make a huge difference in the final texture of dehydrated celery when you rehydrate it in pieces, when grinding the stalks into celery powder, I don’t find it necessary. Perhaps some of those enzymes are already inactivated when you dehydrate the celery as my homemade celery powder seems to stay a nice shade of green.
You can probably guess that I never blanch the celery stalk pieces when making celery powder or salt, and I haven’t had any problems with it.
How to make celery powder
How to Make Celery Powder
Nutricious, frugal, and delicious, celery powder is a great seasoning to have on hand, and it's so easy to make with celery leftovers.
- celery leaves and uglier, leftover stalk pieces
Wash and dry celery leaves and other celery bits and pieces. (To reduce drying time, consider chopping stalks into smaller pieces.)
Fully dry leaves and stalk pieces in a dehydrator or at the lowest heat and convection setting of your oven. (Check occasionally and remove dry, brittle pieces, leaving the rest of the celery pieces to continue drying until brittle.)
Once they are fully dry, grind up the celery leaves and stalk pieces until you obtain a fine powder. Celery leaves can be easily pulverized with a mortar and pestle. If using stalk bits, though, I find it much easier to use a spice grinder of coffee grinder.
Store the homemade celery powder in a well-sealed container to keep moisture out, preferably out of direct sunlight.
How to make celery salt
How to Make Celery Salt
Make a flavorful celery salt using your homemade celery powder. Makes 1/4 cup.
Mix together celery powder and salt.
Store in a well closed container in a cool, dark place.