Baked Celery - What Did I Do Wrong?

I like to bake vegetables because it’s a relatively easy way to cook them and you don’t lose vitamins. I got the idea to make a bulgur pilaf with onions & chopped celery. The onions I did pan fry but the celery I baked.

They came out awful. Stringy, chewy, and sour. I tasted a raw stalk; they aren’t the greatest but they aren’t bad either.

What did I do wrong? Perhaps I baked them at too low a temperature - I had it on about 300 before I realized that was too low. Then up to 400.

Why not just use it raw? Or stir-fry it? You don’t “lose vitamins” that way, either.

Too low an oven probably and did you use oil? See this recipe.

Thanks, Gretchen. I’ll try a test recipe to see if it’s the celery but I think that’s it. If they come out nice I will have discovered something - baking celery on low creates a chemical reaction that results in bitterness.

1 Like

I don’t know what might’ve made it bitter (if it wasn’t bitter before you cooked it), but unlike cuts of meat that are tough due to a lot of collagen (like chuck, shoulder, or brisket) that long enough cooking will break down into gelatin, cooking celery won’t have any effect on the stringiness, if you got a stringy head. If it is stringy, you’d need to peel at least the worst of the “strings” off it before you cook it. I’ve never tried roasting celery, but I have had a couple of unfortunate experiences braising it, when I forgot to check it for stringiness beforehand…

2 Likes

^^this.

I used stalks from the same bunch but instead pan-fried my usual way: medium heat, enough oil to coat the pan, covered, stir every few minutes. After a while add chopped onions.

The celery reduced and became sweet and mellow. So there was nothing wrong with the celery. I’ll research this further at some point to see what happened to the compounds in the celery that made it so unpalatable cooking it for a long time at a low temp, but for now - it’s pretty small potatoes. :joy::wink:

3 Likes

Though I haven’t yet tried roasting celery, I do think you need the higher heat for the sugars in the roasted veg to concentrate.

400 F is the temp I use. Lower than that and roasted vegetables taste meh to me.

Many green vegetables have somewhat of a bitterness to them that comes forward when their internal moisture is cooked away, as in a saute. Maybe that’s what happened to the celery?

3 Likes

The only time I’ve used celery in a similar way is in stuffing during Thanksgiving. In those occasions, we do start the dish on the stove, before sticking it in the oven to bake and crisp up at the end, but the stock probably saves the celery from drying out.

I would say in this case, probably no need to bake before hand. I thought celery was mostly water anyway, so I can imagine that baking doesn’t add much, other than to dry it out and make the fibrous-nature more pronounced, and also take away some of the nice crunchy texture.

2 Likes

My family also uses celery as stuffing on T-day!

My next experiment will be to blast it with high heat in the oven for 15 minutes & see what happens. Just a few stalks.

This really fascinates me. Call it corona-curiosity.

2 Likes

Culinary experiment! I’ll be curious to hear the result.

1 Like

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter!

Press Room
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold