Celery Seed

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Celery Seed are European spice, gathered from an ancient, hardy marsh plant called "wild celery" or "smallage". Smallage is wild celery so is different from the celery plant used in celery salt or as a vegetable, but has the same botanical name.

Celery Seed smells grassy and hay-like taste. The flavour of celery salt is penetrating and spicy with hints of nutmeg, citrus, parsley and a pleasant bitter after-taste. Celery seeds offer a hint of umami so can lift a bland meal.

Celery seeds are good with cheese, eggs, tomatoes, potato salad and nut roasts. Or mix into butter for an interesting twist that will improve your breads.

Umbrella-shaped white flowers develop pairs of tiny 1 mm long seeds. These celery seeds are a light brown or khaki colour and have a strong hay-like aroma that reminds one of celery stems. The flavour of celery seeds is strong, bitter, warm, astringent and lingers on the palate, while the aroma is penetrating and reminiscent of celery stalks. As a biennial, celery seeds are harvested in the second year after planting by cutting the smallage stems, letting them dry and then threshing them to remove the tiny seeds from the husks.

Or try something different:

Rub ½ teaspoon of celery seed per 500g of beef or pork before roasting; or add to salad dressings, soups.

Further reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN: 9780778804932.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN: 9781465435989.