Pickled Celery



The recipe I have for you today is a pickle: quick, simple, ready in 24 hours. It makes a small batch which is perfect for trying something new. I’ve also got some suggestions as to what you can do with your newly-made pickle, which makes it so much more enjoyable.

I do love a pickle, but the traditional way of making them involves such a long wait – weeks or months – before you can enjoy them. Recently over on DejaFood.uk I tried my hand at some 17th century pickled onions, and was delighted to find them ready to eat almost immediately. This Pickled Celery (left in photo) is another recipe along those lines and so quick in the preparation, I would not be exaggerating if I tell you it will take only 10 minutes of your time.

Once made, you can enjoy it on it’s own almost immediately, but you can also add it to things to bring the zing! Bottom right in the photo is a fat-free coleslaw made by mixing equal parts of pickled celery and shredded white cabbage. I love a good coleslaw too, but sometimes if you’re eating it with a rich protein, the creamy dressing can be a bit much. With this version, you don’t miss either the fat or the creaminess, because there’s so much going on with the pickle, and the crunchiness of the cabbage.

The larger dish (top in photo) is a potato salad with an American-style dressing. I’ve noticed that people can get quite feisty about potato salad in the US, and that’s understandable, who doesn’t love potato salad? However, having looked at many American, especially Southern, recipes over the years, a lot of them call for breaking down the cooked potatoes, some even going so far as to mash them, which, when you add the dressing, veers too close to gloopy for my liking. So I decided to make the dressing only and add it to potatoes cooked and cubed to my liking (highly recommended). I was all set to make my potato salad, when I realised I had no relish. I’d HAD relish – some cucumber and dill stuff – but it wasn’t great, and it was all gone anyways. I wasn’t about to go out and buy a single jar of relish, so I looked up relishes online and figured out I could approximate relish with my trusty pickled celery and some gherkins – Huzzah! In fact, be right back, just trademarking Approximate Relish for my new range of condiments.


So here we have a kinda three-in-one recipe, except, in the best infomercial traditions: but wait! There’s more!! The potato salad dressing contains hard-boiled eggs (which are a must-have in American recipes), so in order not to smush (technical term) the potatoes too much, I decided to mix the dressing ingredients together first and then fold them into the potatoes. And in doing so, realised that the dressing + eggs made a really delicious dip/sandwich filling.

And there you have it – what started out as a simple and quick pickle turned into four different recipes/uses. Bargain!

Pickled Celery

Before we start, I have to confess to using cup measurements in this recipe. I usually use metric, but sometimes cups are easier for measuring volume. I have a set of very basic measuring cups for just such an instance, e.g. a quarter cup (60ml) is much easier to use than 4 tablespoons. That said, this is very much a “That’ll Do” recipe, so feel free to wing it. Also, the pickling will cause the colour to fade a little, so use the greenest celery you can find. If you’re a big onion fan, you can use brown/white/red as you like, but use a small one.

2 cups (3-ish whole sticks) celery
1 banana shallot (or 3 pickling onions)
1 sprig fresh dill
160ml white/distilled vinegar
80ml water
3tbs caster/white granulated sugar
1tsp salt
1/4tsp celery seeds

  • Wash and trim the celery. Chop the celery. I like to chop it quite small so that whatever it’s being used on/in doesn’t have large pieces sticking out. Cut the celery lengthwise into 1cm strips, then gather the sticks into a bundle and chop into 1cm sections. This will give pieces small enough to pickle quickly, but still have crunch when bitten.
  • Chop the shallot finely. Add to the chopped celery. Mix.
  • Put half the mixture into a glass/plastic bowl. Add the sprig of dill then add the remining celery/onion mix.
  • Put the remaining ingredients into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Pour the pickling liquid over the celery. Cover and leave to cool.
  • When cold, transfer to the fridge overnight.
  • Enjoy your pickled celery!

Pickled Celery Coleslaw

Mix equal quantities of shredded white cabbage and pickled celery. I like to chop the cabbage into similar size pieces as the celery, to make it easier to eat. Sprinkle with a few strands of fresh dill, if liked.

Potato Salad (and Tasty Egg Salad Dip/Sandwich Filling)

The addition of the pickled celery and gherkins add a real piquancy to the salad. The plainness of the potatoes is thrown into sharp relief against the sharpness and richness of the eggs/dressing. This makes a family-sized quantity – enough for 2-3 meals. If that sounds too daunting, make half, or just make up the dressing and then keep it to use on a few potatoes at a time, or as a dip or sandwich filling. Potato Salad Hot Tip: for best results, always add dressing to warm potatoes.

6 large eggs
1/2 cup pickled celery – drained
1/2 cup chopped gherkins
1/4 cup (60ml/4tbs) yellow American mustard
1/2 cup (120ml/8tbs) Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise
1/2 cup ( (120ml/8tbs) plain, fat-free yogurt
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
salt and coarse-ground black pepper to taste

10 potatoes (floury Maris Piper, King Edward, Desiree, etc) or your own favourite.

  • Hardboil the eggs. Cool under cold water. Peel and chop. Set aside.
  • Put the drained celery and gherkins together and chop finely. Chop the dill.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients together until smooth, then add in the chopped vegetables, dill and eggs.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper to season.
  • You can stop here and refrigerate the dressing/dip until required. Otherwise…
  • Simmer/steam your potatoes until tender. Drain. Return the potatoes to the pan to dry/cool.
  • When cool enough to handle, peel (or not, I don’t) and chop into the best-sized pieces. NB: Best-sized is whatever you like, it’s your potato salad.
  • Add sufficient dressing to the warm potatoes and toss gently. Cover and chill in the fridge.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.