Ramblings, Today I Learned
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A Stalk of Celery vs a Rib of Celery?

A stalk of celery and a rib of celery

Your recipe calls for a stalk of celery. Do you mean a rib, or the entire stalk?

Wait – what? A stalk and a rib of celery aren’t the same thing?

I thought a bunch of celery was, well, a bunch. And that a stalk was one stick of celery from the bunch. Turns out, the entire bunch of celery is actually the celery stalk, and a single stick from that stalk is called a rib. I assumed – no, I knew, with absolute certainty, that a stalk of celery and a rib of celery are the same thing.

And they’re not, if you talk to a botanist, or maybe a farmer.

But every recipe I’ve ever read refers to a single rib of celery as a stalk. What’s going on?

Stalk of Celery vs Rib of Celery

When a recipe calls for a stalk of celery, it’s asking for one rib, not the whole head of celery. What’s going on is language drift. At some point, the recipe definition of “stalk” diverged from the botanical definition. Sure, pedants will say “but the stalk is the entire bunch!”, and they’ll be technically correct1, but if a recipe calls for a stalk of celery, don’t cut up the entire head and add it to the pot.

Do what I mean, not what I say

When I say “1 stalk of celery, minced”, I mean a single rib. If that bothers you, I’m sorry…but I’m not changing my writing style.

When I ask for a stalk of celery, this is how much I want you to use.

What do you think?

Questions? Leave them in the comments section below. (But, Walls of Text about the death of meaning or the corruption of English will be ignored.)

Related Posts

Here are a few recipe that call for a “Stalk” of celery…

Instant Pot Potato Salad
Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Pressure Cooker Vegetable Broth
My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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  1. The best kind of correct.

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Filed under: Ramblings, Today I Learned

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

12 Comments

  1. Mary Arebalos says

    I’ve been cooking for decades and with lots of celery, but had to Google what a rib of celery was…js…I can’t be the only person who uses lots of celery in dishes I cook that didn’t know a stalk was a rib!!

  2. Nkiru Philips says

    Honetly I thank you from the bottom of my heart because I have been searching for this online through several recipes and last time I used too much celery

    • Ha! Good luck with that one – I guess you’ll have to use your own best judgement. Me? I can’t think of why a recipe would use a single rib and an then an entire stalk, so I assume they meant “rib” both times.

  3. David says

    Just wondering this because a recipe I was looking at said:
    2 stalks celery, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

    I was like, wait, two celery ribs won’t make up a cup and a half, a d two celery bunches would be too much.

    Can recipes just please include a volume or weight suggestion!

    • That’s nice.
      In fact, I am not a person who consume this celery and that’s not a Vege that you can find in a typical Indians house though.
      Happened to enroll for a total body detoxing where they ask us to juice the fruits and veges when I came across this ingredient part.
      It says, 2 stalks of celery. Yes, you read it right.
      When I went to the supermarket, they are selling a single stalk @ a bunch of it. And they labeled it as One Stalk of Celery.
      When the menu asked for 2 stalks, can you imagine what went through my mind? I would be a complete idiot if to use the 2 bunches of the celery.
      So, there goes the googling. Hahaha.
      Ended up use 2 ribs for the purpose. Good write up. This might help many out there who struggles with such language errors .
      But, the celery mixed with cucumber + ginger and lemon was not bad. Quite tasty and I loved it.

  4. Lyndsie Flores says

    I just want to thank you because I have been searching for this online through several recipes and last time I used WAY too much celery 🤣

  5. Mike, I think you have read a few of my recipes over the years in which I always referred to a piece of celery as a “rib.” I think. And don’t get me started on pimiento vs pimento cheese.

  6. Samina says

    I thought a rib & a stalk were the same thing, too. Never dwelled on it, but I’m glad you clarified. Apropos of nothing, James Howe’s Bunicula & its sequel, The Celery Stalks at Midnight were among my brother’s favorite books when he was a kid. I still can’t see a reference to celery without thinking of that book.

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