What is Celery Seed?
Celery seed is a member of the parsley family and is native to an area extending from China to Sweden. The imported celery seed used today, whole or ground, comes from a variety grown primarily in France and India known as smallage. This type of celery was grown for centuries as a medicinal aid and was introduced as a food plant around the seventeenth century. However, though they have similar flavors, the vegetable celery (stalks and leaves) with which we are familiar comes from different varieties of the sames species and is grown in the United States.
The fruit of smallage is the spice known as celery seed and grows in clusters of small white flowers at the ends of tapered stems. The celery plant grows to a height of 2 – 3 feet, producing the tiny seeds in its second year of growth. Celery seeds are one of the smallest seed spices; there are approximately 750,000 seeds in 1 pound of the spice.
What is it used for today?
Two of the most common seasoning blends containing celery seed are seasoned salt and celery salt. These all-purpose blends of salt, ground celery seed and other spices have been used for years in a wide variety of applications. In the ground form, it is also an essential component of many poultry and other meat seasonings placing it among the ingredients in gravies, bread stuffings and sauces. Whole celery seed is most often found in pickling spice blends in the canning industry.