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White Celery Leaves
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White celery leaves are small to medium in size and are broad, deeply lobed leaves. The dark green leaves are flat, thin, and pliable, and have jagged edges and three-lobes. White celery leaves grow on long, slender, and thin, snow-white stalks that are hollow in the center. The stalks can be fibrous, tough, and less crunchy than Western varieties. White celery leaves are tender and have an assertive herbal flavor with a strong, peppery taste and fragrance.
White celery leaves are available year-round, with peak season in the summer through fall.
White celery leaves, botanically classified as Apium graveolens var. secalinum, grow on long, thin leafy stalks in marshlands and are members of the Apiaceae family. Also known as Celery sprout, Nan Ling celery, Leaf celery, White Queen celery, and Snow White celery, White celery is a variety of Chinese celery and is described as a "cousin" of Western celery. The plant is predominately grown for its leaves, and both the leaves and stalks are used as an herb in natural medicine and are also used to add flavor in soups and salads.
White celery leaves contain vitamins A and C, B-vitamins, and folate.
White celery leaves are best suited for cooked applications such as blanching, stir-frying, boiling, and sautéing. They are most commonly used to flavor marinades, stews, soups such as chilled tomato gazpacho, or used in tomato sauces with mint and served over spinach or cheese stuffed ravioli. White celery leaves can also be pickled, used in stir-fries, served as a garnish, or blanched and chopped for potato salads and slaws. White celery leaves pair well with ginger, garlic, and onion, chile, mint, tomato, Aleppo pepper, and meats such as chicken and pork. White celery leaves will keep up to five days when wrapped in a paper towel and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In traditional Chinese medicine, White celery leaves have historically been a popular herb and are considered to have cooling properties and a calming effect on the digestive tract. It was a well-known favorite flavoring among Chinese aristocrats and was often used as a detoxifying agent. In Japan, White celery leaves were primarily used as a garnish on soups and salads as its flavor was considered too strong for traditional Japanese cuisine.
White celery is believed to be native to China, where reports of the thin-stalked plant were first found as far back as 2,000 BCE. It then spread to Korea and was said to have been brought to Japan around the 1500s, although it wasn’t widespread until the 1960s. Today, White celery leaves can be found in fresh markets and specialty grocers in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, and the United States.