Celery seed (Recipe: refrigerator zucchini pickles)
First published in June 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Special thanks to my friends Bob and Charlotte for the zucchini (and blossoms, what a treat!) from their garden, and to all of the friends who've left zucchini on my front porch this month. Oh, and don't worry about adjusting your computer screen; it's turmeric that gives these pickles their vibrant yellow color.
If it weren't for potato salad and pickles, my celery seed would be toast.
All winter, it sits on the spice rack, pushed farther and farther to the rear of the shelf.
In summer, when I'm ready to make pickles and potato salad (Why only in summer? I don't know.), I retrieve the celery seed, dust off the jar, use a few teaspoons here and there, and send it back to its place. Every other year or so, I throw out the mostly-full but decidedly less-zesty spice, buy a new jar, and start the cycle again.
Time to admit that maybe celery seed shouldn't be in The Perfect Pantry? Time to broaden my culinary repertoire?
Time to start drinking Bloody Marys?
Celery seed -- called apio in Spanish, ajmoda in Hindi, sedano in Italian and kan-tsai in Chinese -- is not actually the seed of the leafy celery stalks that garnish those Bloody Marys, though it has the same ancestry. The seed comes from Apium graveolens, a marsh plant called smallage or wild celery, grown primarily in India but also in China, France, and California.
Light- to medium-brown in color, celery seeds have a more spicy taste than the familiar stalks of cultivated celery; in Herbs & Spices, an essential reference for any cook's library, Jill Norman describes the aroma and taste as having hints of nutmeg, citrus and parsley. Use sparingly, as that spicy taste can overwhelm. Be sure to purchase whole seed rather than ground; when ground, this spice quickly loses its balance, and the flavor becomes quite bitter.
And without celery salt -- 3 parts kosher salt mixed with 2 parts ground celery seed -- the Bloody Mary would be toast, too.
Refrigerator zucchini pickles
Makes 1 quart; recipe can be halved or doubled.
2 lbs small zucchini
1 small yellow or white onion
2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Cut unpeeled zucchini into thin slices, like cucumbers. (If you have a mandoline with an adjustment dial, set it to 1/4-inch.) Peel onion and slice thin. (Also on the mandoline, if you're using one.) Place vegetables in a large stainless steel or glass bowl.
In a stainless steel saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and pour over vegetables. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature.
Pour vegetables and liquid back into a stainless steel saucepan. Return to heat, bring to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Pour into hot, scalded jars. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Quinoa with grilled zucchini, chickpeas and cumin, from Pink of Perfection
Zucchini with lentils and roasted garlic, from Steamy Kitchen
Zucchini with cashews, from My Feasts
Persian zucchini frittata, from Mysoorean
Curried ratatouille, from No Recipes