Want to avoid buying celery that had to be shipped to you in a refrigerated vehicle?

One thing I used to buy a lot of that is imported in winter here is celery. And I composted a lot of it, because I never seem to use the whole bunch before it goes bad. Many of my recipes use celery, usually sautéd with the onions & garlic. Celeriac root in smaller amounts can replace it. And celery leaves or celeriac leaves can be thrown in late in the cooking like parsley.

 I had read somewhere that you could grow celery here in the north and store it, roots and all, in soil in a cardboard crate in the basement for months. But celery is fussy to grow because you have to “hill” it to “blanch” the bottoms. For winter use it’s just as good to grow “leaf celery” and freeze the leaves for use in soups and stews. Celeriac (a root with celery’s flavor) needs a really long time to grow as seedlings in the window and you have to keep the ground moist all summer to get nice big roots. Mine are too small to store them in the root cellar as planned, but I'll still freeze them. 

Note from Bob in Kentucky February 2011: "Years ago when I lived in a house with an attached solar greenhouse (and I will again!) we moved celery in from the garden in the fall and easily kept it growing through the winter. We’d just cut the outside stalks as we needed them and it’d keep growing from the middle."

Even better, this year I'm growing six starts of lovage, a huge perennial herb that has leaves that look and taste like celery. I'm not growing celeriac this year – the roots are so tiny, I may as well have bought one huge root at the health food store to dice and freeze.

This is pretty much all the celeriac I grew. I planted 32 starts.

Celeriac root freezes well. Wash, peel and cut into thin discs or small cubes. Water blanch for three minutes, plunge into ice water, drain, blot on a towel, freeze loose on a tray, and pack in bags so you can take a little at a time.

Celeriac leaves or the leaves of leaf celery (that's what I'm growing next summer) can be snipped off the stems and frozen in bags just like parsley. I did almost two pounds this way.  

Now the experiment is, can one person make do with this and not buy any celery from the time the imported stuff shows up in stores until there's fresh local celery (or my own leaves) next July? I'm also freezing cubes of the lovely fragrant blanching water, boiled down somewhat. I can throw them into cabbage soup, too.

 Today at Lynn's House followed my gardening experiences.

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