Celery rarely gets top billing when it comes to cuisine. Sure, it gets a lot of use in soups, stir frys, crudite plates and as a low-cal snack food. It accompanies buffalo wings and serves as a crunchy vessel for peanut butter and raisins as ants go marching. Still, we don’t hear a lot about the flavor of celery. Sure, it’s subtle. Delicate even. And that’s exactly what makes celery so versatile. The light, distinctive taste of celery can be nicely paired with just about anything and it’s uses are endless. Why not jam?
Like tomato jam, celery jam finds its consistency not though pectin, but by a hard boil followed by a slow simmer. Once cooked down, sugar and celery become soft, glassy and spreadable. The flavor is concentrated and more distinctive than found in the raw vegetable, but has the same spectacular versatility. Sweet celery jam makes a wonderful addition to a charcuterie board, complementing the flavors of sharp cheeses, smoked meats or spread on salty crackers. A jam of many uses, it’s great on a turkey sandwich, but also surprisingly good when used on a PB&J sandwich (although you might feel compelled to use a crusty artisan bread to maintain the gourmet mystique).
The workhorse of many recipes won’t drive the meal even in jam form, but this sweet condiment turns the humble vegetable into something a little exotic and is an attention getter wherever it’s used. Plus, it smells great while it’s cooking. When’s the last time someone said that about celery?
Yield: 1.5 pints
- 1-1/2 pounds celery
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
Wash celery and cut into thin slices.
Bring a quart of water to boil in a large pot and add celery slices.
Cook 5 minutes, drain and discard water.
Add water, sugar and lime juice to pot and return to a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 60 minutes until cooked down to a thick, “jammy” consistency with a glassy sheen.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container.