Fenland Celery Now Has Protected Status
My late mother loved celery but she wouldn't go near ‘that tasteless green stuff' as she called supermarket pre-packed celery! It had to be ‘black-land' celery - more commonly known as Fenland Celery. She would only buy it in its original, just lifted and still dirty state and it had to have the root still on it. We used to fight over who got the bit with the biggest bit of nutty root still attached!
I am a Fen girl myself living on the Norfolk / Cambridgshire border so am very familiar with Fenland Celery which has now joined the ranks of Champagne, Stilton and Cornish Pasties in terms of protected status. The name is given only to celery planted, grown and harvested in small areas which have specific deep peat soils in parts of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk using traditional methods which include ‘earthing up' just like potatoes, this protects from frost and blanches the stems making them sweeter, crisper, crunchier and less stringy than most modern varieties. It was grown in Victorian times harvested from October to December and traditionally enjoyed over the Christmas period.
Only three varieties can be used to produce Fenland Celery, Hopkins Fenlander, New Dwarf White, Ely White. These three varieties are the only ones used due to their good yields, taste resistance to disease and adaptability to the soil type
According to its official description in terms of taste ‘Fenland Celery possesses a deeper and more evenly balanced sweet / salty / bitter flavour ratio than modern day varieties. This is paired with a characteristic refreshing delicate nu ttiness, and subtle aromatic conifer fragrances and mild aniseed notes' - so now you know!
All I know is it is simply the best celery you can grow (or buy) look for it at your local Farmers Market, it's widely available in Norfolk Farm Shops. It may be a bit late now but try growing Hopkins Fenlander for yourself next year!