Black celery? Well yes and no, it starts out very dark hence the name but after a while it becomes almost white or at least the heart will. This is achieved by a process called blanching. It is a way of keeping a crop warm and protected during the colder months. It is a method also used for cardoon and very famous, chicory. It also protects crops from daylight – with celery this helps to keep the sticks white and more crunchy.
Bleaching celery can be done by either:
1. digging a trench planting the celery in there and mounding soil around them as they grow or
2. come October tying the plant up with newspaper or cardboard.
Whichever way is chosen it is quite labour intensive which explains why celery grown this way is a rather costly plant (between 2 to 3 € a piece) There are self blanching varieties however but it is not the ‘real thing’ and never as crunchy as a proper bleached celery.
The sedano from Trevi is one of the IGP products of Umbria and it is said that the particular soil of a small area of land near the Clitunno river contributes to the particular characteristics of the celery.
So apart from the smoke of the barbecues not much blackness in Trevi’s historical centre. It was all green, celery and yes you guessed it Olio Nuovo, the just pressed new olive oil which had an incredible green color. The sedano festival is only once a year but Trevi can be enjoyed the whole year. It really is a terrific place with some nice restaurants and it sports some fantastic views of the Spoletana valley not to mention all its famous olive groves. The road leading up to Trevi is one of my favourites this time of the year with the branches of the trees heaving with olives ready to be picked.
If you’d like to stay in the region have a look at our website, why for instance not book the lovely villa Foligno. It serves as great base for visits to Spoleto, Spello and of course Trevi. Oh if you fancy some black celery and happen to be in the neighbourhood this weekend there is a nice farmers market in Trevi which will surely give you a buying/tasting opportunity and we were told there will be loads of freshly roasted chestnuts as well! Look at the todoinumbria.com site for more info.