What is a Stalk of Celery?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters
Traditionally a Bloody Mary is garnished with a celery stalk.
Traditionally a Bloody Mary is garnished with a celery stalk.

The term "celery stalk" can have more than one meaning, depending on the source. It is common for people to refer to one of the upright branches of a cluster of celery as a stalk, but this section can also be called a petiole, a branch, or a rib. In such cases, the entire grouping of celery branches or petioles may be referred to as a celery stalk, though the term bunch is often used.

Celery stalks grow in bundles that are about 12 to 16 inches long.
Celery stalks grow in bundles that are about 12 to 16 inches long.

A celery stalk typically is one of many long, curved sections that are attached together at the bottom of the plant, just above the root and at the point where the plant enters the soil. They are only connected at the very bottom, and grow separately from that point up to the crown. At the crown, or top, of each stalk are the leaves of the plant, which vary in size from small and delicate to relatively large. Each branch is ribbed on the outside and smooth on the inside.

Celery stalks may be dipped in salad dressing for a delicious snack.
Celery stalks may be dipped in salad dressing for a delicious snack.

It is quite common to trim a bunch of celery before it is sold, to help to make the plant more attractive. The larger leaves in particular are removed, as they can become droopy fairly quickly and detract from the overall appearance of the celery. Typically, the root is cut off and discarded or used for animal feed. Celery root is sold in various forms, but that is actually a different plant, also known as celeriac, and not the root from the plants that produce the stalks.

As celery grows in contact with the ground, it is important to be sure it is cleaned thoroughly before being used. The best way to clean it is to separate each celery stalk from the bunch, and then wash it well using a small vegetable scrub brush. It is almost impossible to get all of the dirt out of the plant unless the pieces are separated.

People typically either love the flavor of celery or hate it. A chopped celery stalk is considered a staple in various recipes including stuffing, soups, and stews. Used fresh, it goes well with salads or as an appetizer, especially when dipped in ranch, honey mustard, or another type of salad dressing. Filled with peanut butter or cream cheese it makes a healthful snack for children, combining vitamins and fiber with protein.

Dieters often use this food to help satisfy cravings, especially people who miss the crunch of fried or baked foods. A single celery stalk has very few calories, typically only about six for a medium-sized section. Many people eat celery because it contains negative calories; this means that it takes more calories to eat and digest it than what it contains.

How Many Calories in a Stalk of Celery

Watch out! Although most people refer to one single piece of the celery as a stalk, others, including the USDA, refer to the whole bunch of celery as one stalk. What’s more confusing is that the singular stalk also goes by many other names; it can be referred to as a branch, a rib, a petiole, or a stick of celery. When determining the calorie count for your day or week, the difference between terms can be critical.

Calories for One Stalk, Branch, Rib, Petiole, or Stick of Celery = 6.4

Calories for One Stalk, Bunch, Cluster, Petioles, or Crown of Celery = 76.8

What Is a Rib of Celery

The singular piece of celery broken off from the bunch is referred to as a rib of celery. Ribs of celery are often used as low calories snacks or vehicles for dips or other condiments. Popular combinations with celery ribs are:

  • Tuna salad
  • Spinach dip
  • Peanut butter and raisins
  • Blue cheese
  • Hummus
  • Goat cheese and walnuts
  • Cream cheese and bacon bits
  • French onion dip

How Much Is a Stalk of Celery

Remember, the USDA refers to the entire group of celery sticks as one stalk of celery. As confusing as this may be, it is crucial to keep in mind when reading recipes or counting calories. If you are reading a recipe called for one stalk of celery, use deductive reasoning to determine whether or not using all of the sticks would be entirely too much celery or if it would be perfectly fine.

For example, you may find that in a vegetable soup, an entire stalk, as defined by the USDA, of celery makes sense; vegetable soup has lots of veggies in it. Alternately, if you are making corned beef and the recipe says to dice one carrot, one onion, and one stalk of celery to toss over the brisket while cooking, you can likely decide that it means one singular stick.

Is Celery Good for You?

Not only is celery super low in calories, but it is super high in fiber. Fiber is what keeps your body, ahem, moving as it should in the digestion department. If you are on a calorie-restricted diet under the guidance of your doctor, you may find that celery helps you stay full without going over your calorie limit. Other significant benefits of celery include:

  • Full of antioxidants
  • High in vitamin C
  • Reduces inflammation
  • High water content
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Low glycemic index
  • Has alkalizing effects

How To Include Celery in Your Diet

Celery is one of those polarizing foods. Most people like it, but other people are opposed to it. If you have spent the majority of your life being an anti-fan of celery, don’t worry, there are sneaky ways that you can squeeze celery into your diet without holding your nose and closing your eyes.

Sunrise Juice: makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 3 celery sticks
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and seeds removed
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • ½ bunch of parsley
  • 1 orange, juiced

Directions

  • Add all ingredients into juicer aside from orange juice
  • Juice
  • Stir in orange juice at the end

No Juicer Directions

  • Add ½ c. water
  • Add all ingredients
  • Blend until smooth

Bright Eyes Smoothie: makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 celery sticks
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 apple, peeled and seeded
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1cup frozen cherries

Directions

  • Pour coconut water into the blender
  • Add all other ingredients
  • Blend until smooth

Classic Vegetable Soup: makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 c. celery, chopped
  • 3 c. potatoes, chopped
  • 2 c. green beans, chopped
  • 1 c. corn
  • 1 c. peas
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 4 cartons of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: Crackers for serving

Directions

  • Sauté onion and garlic in a large stockpot with olive oil until translucent
  • Deglaze the pot with chicken stock
  • Add celery, carrot, and potatoes and remaining chicken stock
  • Bring to boil
  • Add green beans
  • Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes
  • Check potatoes for tenderness
  • Add corn and peas and cook another 10 minutes
  • Ladle into bowls while hot
  • Serve with crackers

Ants on a Log

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of celery, separated into sticks
  • 1 ½ c. of crunchy almond butter
  • ¾ c. raisins
  • Optional: Pink Himalayan salt

Directions

  • Fill well of celery stick with almond butter
  • Add raisins on top in a line
  • Optional: Sprinkle with pink Himalayan salt

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    • Traditionally a Bloody Mary is garnished with a celery stalk.
      By: Danny Hooks
      Traditionally a Bloody Mary is garnished with a celery stalk.
    • Celery stalks grow in bundles that are about 12 to 16 inches long.
      By: andersphoto
      Celery stalks grow in bundles that are about 12 to 16 inches long.
    • Celery stalks may be dipped in salad dressing for a delicious snack.
      By: design56
      Celery stalks may be dipped in salad dressing for a delicious snack.