Small, leafy, and aromatic leaf celery is a variety of celery cultivated in East Asian countries for its edible, flavorful stalks and leaves.
- Apium graveolens var. secalinum (scientific name)
- Chinese celery
- Seledri (Indonesian)
What is Leaf Celery?
Leaf celery is a variety of celery cultivated in East Asian countries for its edible, flavorful stalks, and leaves. The stems are thinner than those of Western celery, and curved into round, hollow stalks.
Leaf Celery vs Western Celery
Leaf Celery is smaller than Western celery. The stems are thinner than Western celery and are more round, while the leaves have a similar jagged appearance.
The stalks and leaves are used for their intense flavor and distinct crunchiness. It has a stronger flavor than Western celery. That is why this herb is rarely eaten raw due to its pungent taste. And unlike Western celery which is primarily grown for the stalks and is used raw, leaf celery is best cooked because the flavor can overpower other herbs and spices.
What Does Leaf Celery Taste Like?
Raw leaf celery is pungent and slightly peppery. Leaf celery tastes similar to regular celery, only much stronger. Cooking sweetens and tames its taste while softening its texture.
Where to Buy
You may not find this herb in most grocery stores but you can find it in specialty stores, farmer’s markets, or at Asian grocery stores. Look for firm tight, blemish-free stalks. Avoid limp stalks with yellow leaves as they have passed their prime.
Fresh celery will stay fresh for at least one week. One method that will help your fresh herbs last as long as possible is the jar method. Trim the bottom half-inch of the stems using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. This allows them to more-readily soak up water. Fill a small glass or jar with water and stick the leaf celery in so that the stems are submerged in water and the leaves are sticking out of the top like a bouquet.
Place a clean plastic bag over the top, letting the opening of the bag remain loose, and transfer it into the fridge. Change out the water every few days. Leaf celery can last for two to three weeks using this method. You can also use this same method for other leafy herbs like parsley and mint.
The jar method works the best but takes up a lot of space in the fridge. You can also wrap the stems in a damp paper towel, leaving the leaves bare, and transfer them into a ziplock bag or airtight container. Place in the crisper and check the paper towel every few days, rewetting if it becomes dry. Stored this way, leaf celery can last for 2 weeks.
While this herb is best consumed fresh. It’s not recommended to freeze as it affects the texture and color of the leaves. However, it is possible to freeze it if you happen to have an abundance and don’t want your celery to go to waste. To do this, wash your celery and pat dry with a clean towel. Place in ziplock bags and toss in the freezer.
You can also preserve pre-portioned amounts of leaf celery using ice cube trays. To do this, finely chop the fresh leaf celery. Press it into an ice cube tray. Add in a splash of water or oil. Once the cubes are frozen solid, you can remove them from the tray and store them in a ziplock bag or airtight container for up to 6 months.