The organic celery I grow here at Coleshill Organics is a completely different creature to the one you’ll find in the supermarket—even the certified organic kind.

My celery, a certified organic variety called ‘Victoria’, packs a real punch.

It has a dense, leafy head of flavoursome, bitter leaves and fibrous, thin, leggy stalks. Our celery demands to be treated with a bit more imagination—cutting into sticks for dips just won’t do!

Organic celery

We leave the head of leaves on as they are delicious in their own right; this sometimes causes the stems to become a little floppy, as the leaves can draw a little moisture out of the stalks after cutting, but we think it is worth it, and better than just cutting and composting them.

Growing Organic Celery is an Art

Growing celery organically from seed is truly an art in itself, as they require a lot of attention and are prone to disease. To save ourselves a lot of bother (and potential disappointment!) we buy in our celery plants every year as young transplants in trays (below) from organically-certified Delfland Nursery.

Young organic celery in trays

In the spring, we plant about 800 celery in the polytunnel for extra warmth, and start harvesting these about July. Then in August we plant a further 400, which we harvest from December through to the Spring.

Bristol 24/7 Autumn Feast

I’m proud to say that our organic celery recently featured in one of the dishes served up for well over 100 guests at Bristol 24/7’s Autumn Feast (below) in Bristol last week, in partnership with the Square Food Foundation.

Bristol 24/7 Autumn Feast

Credit: Chris Cooper (www.shotaway.com)

This feast was the culmination of a training programme for Bristol’s young chefs, the brain child of well-known chef Barny Haughton and founder of the Square Food Foundation (below with the 12 young chefs), who delivered much of the training himself.

I was there and I can vouch for the deliciousness of everything that was served—particularly the celery soup!

Barney Houghton on stage with the young chefs at Bristol 24/7 Autumn Feast

Credit: Chris Cooper (www.shotaway.com)

Barny Haughton has kindly supplied me with two fabulous celery recipes for us all to try (see below)… and you’ll all find our delicious organic celery in every size of this week’s organic veg boxes.

Do give these recipes a go, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Sonia

Celery leaf and potato soup

A brilliant way of using up organic celery leaves. When raw, they have a bitter flavour and fibrous texture; but when cooked like this, they add a rich almost curry-like flavour to this soup. You can blitz the final soup, but if you cut the vegetables well it’s very pretty and somehow more nourishing and delicious unblitzed.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium sized white onions finely chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 10g butter
  • 10ml olive or sunflower oil
  • 100ml creme fraiche
  • 200ml full fat milk
  • 300ml water + 1 heaped tbs Marigold stock granules OR 300ml fresh veg stock
  • 500g floury potatoes skin on finely chopped
  • The leaves and small stalks of one head of organic celery washed thoroughly (removing yellowing leaves, etc) and chopped as if it were parsley – i.e. fine.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • A squidge of lemon juice

METHOD

Sweat the onions and garlic in the butter and oil gently for 20 minutes or until soft.

Add all other ingredients except the lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 45 minutes or until potato is completely cooked. Check seasoning and serve with a squeeze of lemon in each bowl.

Braised celery stalks

INGREDIENTS

This dish is lovely served with roast chicken or with baked fish. But I also love it on wholemeal buttered toast as a starter.

  • 1 head organic celery, leaves and small stalks removed, washed well and stalks cut into the green bean lengths
  • 100g butter
  • 200ml water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • bunch parsley (chopped)

METHOD

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and add the water, celery stalks, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to the lowest possible simmer. Put a well-fitting lid on and cook for 1 hour or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the celery is soft (easily cuttable). Add parsley and cook a little more, and serve.

A summer version of this, using olive oil instead of butter and tossed in lemon juice and mustard while still warm, makes a delicious salad. Enjoy!