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When did celery stop being celery-coloured?

I seem to remember, growing up in Scotland, that celery was a creamy yellow colour and not at all the vaguely opaque green we are more used to seeing these days. Or did I imagine it - did celery really used to be the colour of - well Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup?

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  1. I have always known my celery as well, celery green. But the inside area does have that yellow color, from lack of sunlight reaching it. Perhaps the growing methods were different in Scotland?

    I say this because I seem to recall celery needed to be bound at some point to keep it bunched while growing.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Quine

      I am from England and I agree with the OP that celery was certainly a yellowy/creamy colour and not the green of today. Maybe it is a Brit thing.

      1. re: smartie

        I do think it is a variety difference. Most celery in USA seems to be green, but in researching this topic, I did find references (but not a pic yet) to the fact that celery comes in three colors, green, yellow and a redish.

        1. re: Quine

          Hmm intersting responses so far - maybe this is a Brit thing after all - I also don't seem to recall celery being as stringy as it seems nowadays. Is it possible that we used to blanch the celery by piling soil on it at the end of the growing process? I think I remember my father doing that as a method for blanching asparagus.

    2. I am in China and celery is definitely yellow. Yellow, narrow, leafy stalks. Love it.


      2 Replies
      1. re: pepper_mil

        there is something sold here as chinese celery, which matches your description. i like it because it has lots of leaves and is less stringy.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Yes,celery can be a yellowish or cream color.If i recall they put some sort of tube around the growing celery.This keeps the sunlight off it and in effect changes the color to a cream instead of green color.I think photosynthisis has to something to do with it.That is what turns celery green.By surrounding it with a tube or cylinder,you are depriving it of light,so the celery then turns that yellowy cream color.
          You can also do the same with aspergaus as well.

      2. And when did it get so gourmet-expensive? It used to be one of the cheapest things your could find.

        3 Replies
        1. re: howboy

          seriously!! it's crazy expensive this year, it use to be a cheap filler veg, now I can use endive for the same price.

          what's the cost of celery on the West Coast, anyone?

          1. re: orangewasabi

            Celery had a hard start for 2007 due to the intene month long frost CAli endure; the loss of the citrus crop hit the front page of the news but other commodities such as celery got little press on how much it damaged whole farms of celery in the central valley. Hence the higher than usual pricing.

            I don't know what celery cost retail, but wholesale prices are back to normal levels, but this just happened very recently.

            *veggietales :-)

          2. Barbara Kafka in her book Vegetable Love remembers yellow and (white AKA Pascal or Easter) celery.

            She states that the yellow was used to flavor soups or "Italian, French, Spanish, and Cajun dishes." The white was blocked from sunlight and was "eaten raw or cooked."

            She essentially states that today we are stuck with the inferior green celery.

            I might start a search for heirloom celery.

            1. Traditionally (in the UK) celery is earthed up as it grows. With the light excluded, it grows as a creamy off-white colour. Most British grown celery is like this. But, if it is not earthed up, it grows green. It's cheaper to produce that way but, to my mind, loses something of the flavour.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                I miss the flavor of that old-fashioned blanched celery. I find the green celery we have now to be somewhat bitter and grassy flavored. Chlorophyll isn't a friend to celery IMO.

              2. Interesting discussion.
                I've always thought of normal celery as being green (and stringy -- one of the reasons I can only stomach it if it's used to flavor a cooked dish). When green celery is left in the refrigerator past it's prime, it turns yellow or cream-colored.

                I recently discovered "Chinese celery" in the Asian market. It is bright green, but has much thinner, more delicate stalks and a lot more leaves (think cilantro or parsley) than the traditional American-style celery found in the mainstream markets. I haven't tasted any Chinese celery yet, though.

                11 Replies
                1. re: racer x

                  The celery taste is stronger in the Chinese variety. It isn't as good for raw nibbling, but great for flavoring stocks or other dishes (chopped).

                  1. re: paulj

                    Nibbling on raw celery? No thanks.

                      1. re: paulj

                        This is the first I've heard of that dish. (And thanks for making me gag.)

                        1. re: racer x

                          what a poor deprived childhood you had :)

                          1. re: paulj

                            ...and he must have *never* had any veggie nibbles platters with dip. :-D

                            1. re: huiray

                              At more meetings and cocktail parties than I'd care remember.

                              Just gimme the crackers and cheese, and the carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes with the dip. You can keep your celery sticks, thanks.

                          2. re: racer x

                            And no Buffalo Wings with julienned celery, carrot, and blue cheese dressing?

                      2. re: paulj

                        Also good for stir-fries with a little smashed garlic & thin-sliced meat of your choice. Another choice would be stir-fried noodle dishes w/ Chinese celery as the veggie. Distinct flavor to the dish. In fried rice - use as you would Western celery (which is excellent in Chinese fried rice done a certain way).

                      3. re: racer x

                        Have you ever tried "de-stringing" (Western) celery stalks? I normally do, except for the inner core stalks, and even with those I definitely would if they have sat in the fridge for a little while. Really easy to do.

                        1. re: huiray

                          I always destring, whether cooking with the celery or eating it raw in salads or just with cheese.

                      4. Have you noticed that while the outer stalks are green, the inner are yellowish? I love munching on the inner stalks, they're denser and have a more concentrated (less watery) flavor.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pdxgastro

                          Celery hearts, the inner stalks, are commonly sold in sets of 3 in plastic bags. On a per pound basis they aren't as cheap as whole 'heads', but for eating raw they may be a better deal. Hearts don't usually include the leaves, which tend to have more flavor. I usually dice and cook the outer stalks.

                        2. Ah, these posts answered, believed it or not, a fashion question. I bought a suit a few years ago, and the label called the color "celery." It wasn't green-green, however, but a lovely light green with yellow, buttery undertones. Now I get it!