If you’ve ever seen a recipe that calls for celery hearts, you might be wondering how these differ from just plain celery, and which you ought to buy. The two are very similar, but not the same thing, and it’s worth learning the difference, especially if you are a keen cook.
A celery heart is the central part of the celery plant. It is generally more tender and tasty than the outer stalks, and most people prefer the hearts. The outer stems of celery usually have a more bitter flavor, and they are often chewier and less appealing.
What’s The Difference Between Celery And Celery Hearts?
“Celery” is often used to denote the long, tough stalks on the outer part of celery. They are heavily ribbed and can have quite a bitter flavor. The term “hearts” refers to the inner stalks, which are tender and crispy, and will often have the leaves still attached. The celery heart will be notably less fibrous than the outer stalks.
The heart of the celery is what you get if you remove all the outer stems so that you can reach the smaller growth in the center of the plant. This growth will have a more subtle flavor, and most people prefer it to the outer stems.
The stalks that make up the heart grow in tight clusters and are usually shorter than the outer stems. They may also be a paler green color than the outer stems, as they contain less chlorophyll.
Should I Use Celery Hearts For Making Juice?
Stringy juice is unpleasant and may clog up a blender, so many people opt to use celery hearts when they make juice. This tends to offer both a nicer texture and a better flavor, so it’s worth separating out the rest of the celery and using this up separately. Putting celery into smoothies/juices is a great way to increase how frequently you consume this vegetable.
You will probably find that celery hearts don’t have a very distinctive taste once they are combined with other vegetables in a smoothie, so if you don’t like celery, this can be a good way forward. Mix it with plenty of other strong flavors and you may find you cannot even tell the celery is there.
If you would rather use all of the celery in your juice, you can generally peel the strings off the edges of each stalk before you use it, although this will not change the flavor. The very outer stalks may still be a little too fibrous for juicing, but peeling will generally make the rest of the stalks suitable.
Reject any stalks that are very stringy, as they may ruin your juice and make it unpleasant to drink. These outer stalks could be cooked into soups or stews, or eaten raw with dip if you don’t want to waste them.
Are Celery Hearts Better For You?
Both celery and celery hearts are good for you, and there is probably little nutritional difference between them. All celery is better for you when it is fresh and crispy, as limp celery may have lost some of its nutritional value. Some people say that darker green celery is healthier, but either kind should give you a hit of vitamins and nutrients.
You may find celery hearts more pleasant to eat, but both the outer stalks of celery and the inner hearts are healthy to consume and a great addition to your diet. Celery provides a high-fiber, low calorie snack that is rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
It is also rich in vitamin C and vitamin K, and its phthalides and polyacetylenes are thought to help clear carcinogens from the body. The phthalides may also help to reduce blood pressure by relaxing the arteries, making it easier for blood to flow around the body. There is some evidence that eating celery can reduce your risk of cancer.
Can You Eat Celery Raw?
Yes, both celery and celery hearts can safely be eaten raw, and this is a good way to maximize the nutritional value you get from eating them. Many people find celery hearts are more palatable when raw, whereas the outer stalks may benefit from being cooked to make them softer.
If you’re going to eat celery raw, you should begin by washing it in cold water and giving it a gentle scrub to remove any dirt or debris from the stalks. You may have to pull stalks away from the main vegetable in order to wash the insides, which is often where dirt accumulates.
Once the celery is clean, you can either snap off and eat stalks whole, or chop them crossways to add to salads or garnish soups. Many people peel the strings off the outer stalks of celery before eating or chopping them, but if your celery is relatively young and tender, this may not be necessary.
Can You Eat Celery Leaves?
Your celery hearts may have little serrated leaves at the ends, and it’s perfectly safe to eat these. You will find that they are usually tender and crispy. Many people trim them off and use them as a garnish for soups.
If you are going to chop these off the main vegetable, make sure you are ready to use them, as they will wilt fast when separated from the rest of the celery. Don’t chop them off and put them in the fridge, or they are likely to get wasted. If you don’t want them for a garnish, just eat them with the rest of the celery.
Remove any leaves that have become discolored before consuming the celery. Yellow or brown leaves have likely been damaged and will quickly turn mushy and unpleasant, so they should be cut off and thrown away.
Celery and celery hearts are the same thing; the term “celery” refers to the whole vegetable, including its outer stems, while “hearts” refers to just the tender inner stems. Celery hearts are better for juicing and tend to be milder, but both are nutritious and enjoyable.