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Florida Produce: Celery

March 29, 2010

Florida definitely isn’t known for it’s celery production, but it is a commodity that is produced here. Available in Florida from December until May, Florida celery is predominately grown in South Florida. The peak months of celery production are from January through March.

How to buy:
Always buy celery with the leaves attached; this is a good indication of freshness. Celery should be vibrant green, with thick, juicy outer stalks and a profusion of leafy tops.  Make sure to take a good look at the outer stalks for signs of browning or limpness. You should not be able to bend a stalk without it snapping.

Tips for storage:
Store celery in the crisper section of the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to one week. If the celery is very fresh it may keep even longer. Never freeze celery.

Cooking tips:
Use the tougher outer layers for making stocks, broth or braising. Use the tender celery hearts in salads and salsas. Celery stands up well to cooking. The celery leaves are great to use as you would an herb.

Flavors well with:
Lettuce, egg salad, soups, stocks, dill, rosemary, sage

Here’s a quick and simple recipe from Chef Justin that incorporates celery.

Herbed Rice Pilaf
Yield 5 Servings

Ingredients
2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 cup Florida celery, chopped
1/2 cup Florida onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preparation

In a skillet, saute rice, celery and onion in butter until the rice is lightly browned and the vegetables are tender. Spoon into a greased 2-qt. casserole dish. Combine all remaining ingredients; pour over rice mixture. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for 50 minutes or until the rice is done.

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