Celery is one of those vegetables that I often fail to harvest at the proper time. And when celery ribs are allowed to over-mature, they become hollow, spongy and inedible. At first glance, they appear to be wasted. But here’s something I learned this year: the leafy green tops on these stalks still have excellent flavor!
So at the end of the garden season, I learned how to dehydrate and make celery leaf powder. It’s a wonderful addition to my homegrown cooking spice collection. And I thought I’d show you how to make your own with year-end celery leaves!
What Do Dry Celery Leaves Taste Like?
Celery leaves taste just like the celery ribs (aka stalks), but are perhaps a bit more pungent. And the beautiful thing about them is you don’t have to deal with the tough, fibrous strands that are found on the celery stalk itself!
When you want celery flavor in a winter soup or stew, all you have to do is add a handful of crushed leaves or sprinkle in some celery leaf powder. No celery chunks are present!
How to Dehydrate Celery Leaves for Powder
It’s not difficult to dehydrate celery leaflets. And unlike the celery ribs themselves, leaves have very low water content. You should be able to send a batch through your dehydrator in no more than 2 hours.
Nifty, hey? Here’s how you dehydrate and make celery leaf powder!
Step 1: Harvest Your Celery Tops
Celery is a hardy plant and that is capable of surviving below-freezing temperatures for a while. And for this reason, they can usually be let alone until everything else is harvested from the fall garden.
To harvest celery tops, all you have to do is grab a basket, a pair of scissors and go snip the leafy tops off of your celery stalks. Take leaves that are a vibrant green and leave the yellowing ones behind.
Collect, until you have all you need!
Step 2: Remove Celery Leaves from Their Stalks
Once you’ve harvested celery leaves, take them indoors where you can sort them over. Keep an eye open for anything that looks unhealthy or old. If found, throw these leaves out.
And then, it’s time to snip the leaflets free from the stalk! Because here’s the deal: celery leaves dry much faster than the ribs.
If you dehydrate the stalks until they’re finished, the leaves will be overdone. Separating them out ensures you have a quality, finished product with your leaves, one that will be fully dry and shelf stable.
Step 3: Fill Your Dehydrator Trays with Celery Leaves
Celery leaflets can be evenly spread out on your dehydrator trays, 1-2 layers deep. Leaves dry very quickly, so don’t be afraid to spread them thicker than you would fruit or dehydrated meats.
Stack the trays as you go, until you either run out of trays or leaflets.
And then, it’s time to run the dehydrator!
Step 4: How You Dry Celery Leaves in a Dehydrator
Any time I deal with thin, fragile herbs, I try to keep the heat very low to avoid overdoing it. For celery leaves, I set my dehydrator to 115F (approx 45C) and let it run for 1.5-2 hours.
Because the heat is always hottest on the bottom trays, I like to shift them partway through, exchanging the top trays with the bottom ones.
A dehydrator load of fragile herbs will dry more evenly if you do this!
Step 5: Test the Celery Leaves for Dryness
I recommend checking your celery leaflets once an hour has passed. And you can test them for dryness at this point, though they’ll likely need more time.
When finished, the deep green leaves will have turned to a soft, silvery sage color. They should be dry to the touch. But the parts you really have to test are the stems! If they feel limp and soft, this is an indication that your celery tops need to dry for longer.
You’ll know when they’re done, because they’ll be pliable but firm. Or some of the stems might even be crisp!
Step 6: Remove Celery Leaves and Let Them Cool
Hurrah! You’re almost done. All you have to do is dump the celery leaves off the trays and into a big bowl. Crumble them up with your hands and let them cool to room temperature.
This accomplished, you can place the crumbled leaves in an airtight container and use as they are. Or you can make homemade celery leaf powder!
Step 7: How to Turn Celery Leaves into Powder
If you have a kitchen blender or food processor, you can easily turn your celery leaf flakes into powder. Here’s how it works.
- Scoop crumbled celery leaves into your kitchen blender/food processor.
- Tightly cover with lid.
- Pulse the machine to break up the leaves.
- Puree for 30 seconds or until you’re left with a fine, green powder.
And just like that, you’ve made celery powder!
The Best Way to Store Celery Powder
Whether you just crumble your leaves or if you make celery powder, be sure to store the goods in an airtight container. In my kitchen, I like to use pint (500 ml) jars. And I use old tin canning lids and bands to seal them up!
But if I have a surplus of powder (or any dehydrated herb, for that matter), I leave a bit out and pop the rest into my freezer.
Your herbs will hold their robust flavor for much, much longer in the freezer, and you can remove what you need in smaller portions for kitchen use.
How to Use Celery Leaves (or Powder)
You can use celery leaf powder in many different ways in your home cooking. Anywhere you’d would normally use celery ribs themselves, you can add this powder. But consider yourself forewarned?
A little bit goes a long way! For soups and stews make in a 4 quart (3.8 litre) pot, I would recommend using no more than 1 teaspoon of powder. Taste test and find the perfect spot for you and your family.
And just like that, you now know how to dehydrate and make celery leaf powder!