Celery seed comes from a domesticated variety of wild celery
plant called "smallage." With a strong aroma and flavor, this spice
should be used sparingly.
Used as a spice, celery seeds are the dried fruit of the Apium Graveolens, a wild variety of celery. The tiny brown seeds carry an aromatic flavor strongly characteristic of vegetable celery, imparting a warm, slightly bitter taste. They are commonly used for pickling and for flavoring soups, salads, vegetables and meat dishes.
HistoryThe celery plant has been popular since ancient Greek and Roman times when it was used for medicinal and aphrodisiac purposes. But it's uncertain when the seeds of celery were first used as a spice. They began appearing in American cookbooks in the early 19th century, usually in pickling recipes.
Varieties and Buying TipsThe principle sources of celery seed are India, China and France. Indian seed is considered the premium variety as it carries the strongest flavor. The Chinese and French types are slightly smaller and milder.
Store the spice in an airtight container away from light, heat and
moisture. Use within six months or replace with the seeds fade in color
Usage TipsCelery seed has a very strong flavor, so a little goes a long way. It's quite useful for adding flavor to foods when the "crunch" of celery is not desired. Add a pinch to meatloaf, chicken dishes, coleslaw or potato, macaroni and egg salads. Stir some into creamy soups like clam chowder or mix with blue cheese dressing and spoon over tomatoes.
Substitution TipsCelery salt can be substituted if necessary, but it may add too much sodium to your dish.
Try one of our favorite celery seed recipes:
Creamy Cheesy Cauliflower Soup
Patio Potato Salad