Photo from Jonny's Seeds , one of the seed companies I order from.
Our goal to grow as much as possible of what we consume is challenging here where the growing season is short and cool. I'm finding this challenge quite often involves doing without or finding substitutes. One area I'm working on is celery. We do not use very much and though I've come up with better ways of storing it in the refrigerator, it still wants to go bad before we've consume it. Out to the rabbits it goes. Sadly this long storage time means the celery is depleted of nutrition and so it is rather wasted. So what is the solution since there are a few dishes I really like celery in?
Photo from Johnny's Seeds -- Celeriac
As I debated this question, I looked into growing celery in our garden, since we had a friend growing it about 25 miles from us. Alas, the weather and elevation are just different enough from there to here that it is not possible without a greenhouse. Yet it did not seem wise to take up our future greenhouse space to a plant that was only edible during the harvest time. Dried celery stalks to me are hard and woody. I've tried it.
Could there be another plant that tastes like celery but would grow here? I discovered Celeriac in a seed catalogue and gave it a try a couple summers ago. Nope, the tops were lovely but there was no bulbous root by the time Jack Frost came to end the gardening season. The seed packet said 90 days to harvest but our summers are not terribly warm and the sun goes down early being next to the mountains. Those two things put together equate to needing more days than the packet recommends. I'm not completely ready to give up on Celeriac though. Whether it be this year or next I will start plants indoors first and then transplant. Maybe that will work.
As I contemplated the what shall I substitute for celery dilemma once again, I happened to find Cutting Celery in a seed catalogue. (It is not a common thing offered.) The idea intrigued me. A celery that was grew more like parsley but had thicker stalks and an abundance of leaves. I decided to try this variety in the house under grow lights this winter. AWESOME!!! Though the stalks were smaller than the photo in the seed catalogue, it tastes wonderful. Then again the catalogues plant was grown outside and I think I spread the seeds too thick causing over crowding. I've divided the pot into two and I'm watering a little less as the leaves have brown spots. (I have a tendency to over water.)
Beware if you want to try this variety that the flavor of Cutting Celery is a slight bit stronger than traditional celery but not unpleasantly. I rather like the more intense taste. The ability to have it fresh, full of nutrition, and within reach of my kitchen counter makes this a permanent addition to our indoor gardening project. I can't wait to dry some and create ways to use it that way. I've got some ideas already. Celery salt comes to mind. I really like that stuff in potato salad, deviled eggs, and sandwich spreads. What if I dried Cutting Celery and added salt. The kind of salt that does not cause my tastes buds to disappear off my tongue leaving a sore spot. Yes, I'm allergic to the chemicals in highly processed salts.
If this works I can eliminated two things I presently buy, celery, and celery salt. A win, win!
Oh and by the way I'm still waiting on comments on what you want from my blogs in the future. Talk to me please.