I know what you are thinking, and sadly the jar filled with green herb is not legalized marijuana! While Minnesota is making strides with the legalization of medical marijuana we are still aways from legalized recreational use. Yes, someday I hope to write an article espousing the benefits (which there are many) of both medical and recreational cannabis, but this short article is about a very different plant altogether.
As I have written about many times before, we grow a diverse array of plants throughout our extensive gardens. Some of them are fairly uncommon perennials, fruiting shrubs, and vines and others are very common plants found throughout many gardens. Its fun having so much diversity, but it is even better when you find a new use for something as simple and common as celery.
We have grown celery, Apium graveolens for years now. Typically we have always harvested the ribs for use in soups, stews, salads and roasted vegetables, and have used the leaves as an addition to soup stock. This last summer however, I dried the leaves as a means of preservation. And that is the green herb in the jar, dried celery leaves!
The dried leaf of celery has an aroma and taste very similar to when it is fresh, but it is deeper and more earthy as well. This winter I have used it in much of my cooking. It is a great addition to any soup or stew, I have added it to bread dough when I make an herbed loaf, when making rubs for meats it works very nicely with all the other herbs and spices that are found on my spice rack, it adds a depth to veggie dip, and is a great all around herb that I am excited to have available.
I came across the idea for drying celery leaf in the book Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning. It documents many of the traditional food preservation techniques found throughout France. From lacto fermentation to drying, and the use of oils, salt, sugars, and alcohol in preserving food, it has many great ideas on preserving the surplus harvest from your garden.
Its also a fun book, because it so simply illustrates the depth and tradition that is found in European cuisine. Not only do they know how to use all parts of the celery plant, but there are recipes for black currant jam with honey, lemons preserved in salt, lacto fermented veggies, and cherries soaked in brandy.
This spring as you begin to plan and plant your gardens keep in mind that there are many ways of preserving the harvest. Some of these ideas won’t be new to you, but others may revolutionize how or what you grow! You may have a treasure just waiting for you that has always been there, and maybe it will look good being kept in a jar! Peace and Cheers!