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.

4 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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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