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Old 10-12-2014, 02:30 PM   #1
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Always Saute Celery Last?

I was watching a Youtube video the other day and one particular chef said when adding vegetables to a pot or pan to saute always hold off and add the celery after. The reason being that celery is comprised of so much water that it renders too much of it and will prevent the other vegetables, like carrots, onions, and garlic from caramelizing. So many recipes, weather they be European, North American, Latin American, start with these standard vegetables and techniques but yet I have never heard of this cooking tip. What's really funny is that it makes perfectly good sense....

Thoughts?

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Old 10-12-2014, 02:36 PM   #2
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Huh. Never heard of it either, but it does make sense.
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:07 PM   #3
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Onions contain at least as much moisture as celery. I always saute onions first to evaporate the moisture and get them nice and brown, then add carrots, celery and garlic together. If the heat is high enough, the moisture from the latter three will evaporate pretty quickly and they will caramelize. Don't forget to salt each addition, which also helps pull water from the veg.
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:24 PM   #4
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It makes sense, but does it matter? I don't think it's intended for general advice about sauteeing vegetable, and I doubt water content is valid reason for the order of those vegetables.

Celery is 95% water. Onions are about 90%. Carrots are, as we might expect, 87%. Mushrooms are 90%. Tomatoes are 93%. Peppers 92%. Now that doesn't seem like enough difference to make any difference. Quite obviously, we don't expel more than a tiny part of the water, or we would end up with a 1/4 cup of food from 1-1/2 cups of vegetables.

And all vegetables don't go in the pan at the same time. Onions and carrots take longer to cook and are first. Celery goes in before mushrooms and tomatoes. Then greens, if any. Garlic goes in very late. It doesn't stand overcooking.

Note that mushrooms and onions, both with 90% water, need very different cooking times.

Pan temperature should be so high that vegetables brown quickly.It will also help make any expelled water evaporate, but if there's water accumulating and the food is boiling, rather than browning, it's too cool, or the pan is overloaded. I find I more often make batches too large. Residential ranges just don't have high heat capacity. And I end up having to dip liquid out of the pan to get back to browning.

Chef was talking about mirepoix/sofritto (onions, carrots, celery - garlic in sofritto) or the Creole "holy trinity," onion, celery, peppers. For that combination, cooking time calls for onion first, so the effect is more or less the same as thinking about water content.
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Onions contain at least as much moisture as celery. I always saute onions first to evaporate the moisture and get them nice and brown, then add carrots, celery and garlic together. If the heat is high enough, the moisture from the latter three will evaporate pretty quickly and they will caramelize. Don't forget to salt each addition, which also helps pull water from the veg.
If you want to get technical, celery is about 95% water content and onion is around 87%. Not much of a difference but still one, none the less. I can see how celery, being a less dense vegetable may render more of it's water than onion. I should give it a try some day. Sweat equal amounts for the same amount of time and see if there is a difference....

And, no. It doesn't matter. Just thought I would bring up a subject so we could discuss the technicalities.
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:36 PM   #6
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I don't, really. It's close enough for my purposes. The way I've been doing it works for me, meaning there's plenty of caramelization and good flavor in my dishes, so I don't think it would make that much of a difference to do celery last. Let us know what you find out.
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Onions contain at least as much moisture as celery. I always saute onions first to evaporate the moisture and get them nice and brown, then add carrots, celery and garlic together. If the heat is high enough, the moisture from the latter three will evaporate pretty quickly and they will caramelize. Don't forget to salt each addition, which also helps pull water from the veg.
I do it just like that too.

It took me years to figure out not to saute' mushrooms with salt, or salted butter. They will never brown with salt. It also took me years to understand removing bacon after rendering the fat for other veggies. No more flabby bacon in the finished dish.
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Old 10-12-2014, 11:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocklobster View Post
If you want to get technical, celery is about 95% water content and onion is around 87%. Not much of a difference but still one, none the less. I can see how celery, being a less dense vegetable may render more of it's water than onion. I should give it a try some day. Sweat equal amounts for the same amount of time and see if there is a difference....

And, no. It doesn't matter. Just thought I would bring up a subject so we could discuss the technicalities.
Interesting topic, Rock.
Onions may have less water content, but they have more sugar than celery, so they will caramelize nicer. For what it's worth, I always sauté the onion first and then add the celery, carrots, and whatever, and let them pick up the flavor from the onions.
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Old 10-12-2014, 11:42 PM   #9
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I just made a pot roast tonight...it's just about done. I used a 12 oz. chuck roast (I cut up a big roast for smaller dinners). Anyways, all this about veggie moisture content has me interested and gaining experience. I used my 1.5 qt. glass covered oval casserole dish which I am really liking cooking with.

Next time, I'm going to start with bigger sized vegetables with my slow cook pot roast dinner. By the time the 1.5-2 hour cooking time is up, my smaller cut up potatoes, celery, onions, and carrots get rather reduced in size and lose a lot of texture (they become a bit mushy too). I'm going to start with much bigger pieces of vegetables next time. I now realize why they show bigger chunks of vegetables in pictures of pot roasts. Next pot roast, I'm going to put in an onion quartered and not broken up. Same with the potatoes. I'll not halve them. Same with the carrots and celery...they're small size reduced quite a bit and got mushy by the end of the cook time. Also, I know I can thicken the juices after cook time for the gravy effect (from all the water now gathered in the dish) but I'm still surprised how much liquid is given off by the vegetables during cooking.

Ideally tho, I'd rather not add in my potatoes and other veggies after the initial cooking time starts. I like the set and forget method of putting it all together, placing it in the oven and walking away 'till it's done.
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Old 10-13-2014, 02:22 AM   #10
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i've always sauteed veggies in groups based on their hardness, not water content.

that is that things like onions and garlic go together; zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms go together; and hard veggies like celery, carrots, and fennel get sauteed together or at least around the same time.

peppers are tricky as they fall somewhere between onions/garlic and celery/carrots.
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