Celery is a multi-purpose vegetable whose origins can be traced back thousands of years. It can be used as a cooking ingredient in a variety of ways and is believed to possess numerous health benefits.
It’s not just the celery stalk that is packed with flavour and goodness – the leaves and seeds are delicious in salads and the root – or celeriac – is a perfect addition to casseroles, soups, and stews.
As you will discover in our blog, celery is anything but boring. Here are some fun and interesting facts about celery that will make you look at this green veggie in a whole new light!
1. Celery through the ages
Celery is a plant native to the Mediterranean and Middle East regions. Archaeological remains discovered in Switzerland suggests humans were transporting celery seeds as far back as 4,000 B.C.
These days most people consider celery to be a vegetable that can be eaten raw or used as a versatile ingredient in cooking. Yet evidence suggests it was originally used for medicinal purposes in countries such as Egypt, China and India and by the Romans.
Ancient civilizations had other uses for celery too. The International Society for Horticultural Science states that woven garlands of celery were found in early Egyptian tombs, while in Ancient Greece it was given to the winners of athletic events and sporting contests in the same way flowers are awarded today.
2. Celery causes a Bloody Mary stir
A Bloody Mary wouldn’t be complete without a celery stick and a sprinkling of salt. However, when the famous cocktail was allegedly invented in the 1920s at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris which was frequented by writers including Ernest Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald, there wasn’t a morsel of celery in sight. Legend has it that it wasn’t until the 1960s that celery became associated with the alcoholic beverage when it is believed a hotel guest in Chicago had nothing to stir it with, so they grabbed a stick of celery from the buffet and used that instead.
Centuries before that, Romans are said to have used celery as a hangover cure as the stalks were thought to combat the after-effects and headaches caused by drinking too much wine!
3. Celery as an aphrodisiac
Oysters have long been thought of as an aphrodisiac, but did you know celery is also considered to be a food of love?
Celery contains natural chemicals related to human sex drive. Eating a portion of celery is believed to increase levels of androsterone, a natural pheromone found in male perspiration, though there is no medical proof to support this claim.
4. Celery’s celebrity fans
Celery is a firm favourite with celebrities throughout the world like Khloe Kardashian who apparently enjoys it with some almonds as part of her diet.
David and Victoria Beckham’s son, Cruz, has been pictured eating celery for breakfast, while actress Anna Friel and singer Katie Perry are fans of drinking celery juice mixed with beetroot and dandelion leaves.
Strangely, Top Gear presenter, Richard Hammond, once said he only began to like celery after his near-fatal 280mph crash in 2006.
5. Celery’s poisonous past
Celery belongs to the family of herbs and vegetables known as umbellifers and most of the species are extremely poisonous. , Apparently, Socrates took his own life by drinking tea infused with hemlock, which is a member of the same family.
Luckily, celery isn’t poisonous and there are plenty of umbellifers that are also perfectly harmless to humans and consumed as everyday foods such as parsnips, carrots and parsley along with spices like cumin, dill and coriander.
6. Celery has ‘negative calories’
With roughly 10 calories per stalk, celery has a reputation of having ‘negative calories’ – that’s where it supposedly takes more calories to digest celery than contained in the celery itself.
Of course, ‘negative calories’ is purely a made-up phrase, and this particular claim is merely an urban myth, but celery does have a strong association with healthier eating habits due to its high-water content and being low in sodium and calories.
7. Celery’s health benefits
Celery is believed to contain numerous antioxidants, minerals and enzymes that are beneficial to health in addition to vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and folate.
Studies show celery and celery seeds contain anti-inflammatory properties plus nutrients that benefit digestion. The presence of magnesium, sodium and iron in celery helps neutralise acid in the stomach and ease the effects of heartburn, while also assisting with a range of essential bodily functions.
In the Middle Ages, celery was said to be used to treat arthritis, gout, rheumatism, anxiety and insomnia. Luckily, people no longer rely on celery to help treat these ailments thanks to advances in modern medicine.
Liven up mealtime with Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Celery Soup
Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Celery Soup not only makes a tasty lunch, but it can also be used as a versatile ingredient in a variety of tasty dishes and main courses. Check out our Cream of Celery Soup recipes.