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Many sauces include celery. It's not a flavour I'm particularly keen on, particularly in sauces so I'm wondering why it's included. Is it included simply as a flavour or does it serve some other purpose?

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My wife absolutely hates carrots and celery by themselves, but actually loves food I cook with mirepoix. If you haven't tried using it in a mirepoix I'd suggest giving it a shot just to see how the combination works because it does act a little differently combined with other things than by itself. – stephennmcdonald Oct 20 '10 at 20:30
I couldn't agree more I'm not a fan of celery as a flavour on it's own but balanced properly in a dish it just works. – vwiggins Oct 21 '10 at 11:46
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Celery is an aromatic, and 1/3 of a mirepoix. It's used for the base flavor of a lot of French and Cajun/Creole cuisine. It doesn't serve any important chemical role that I'm aware of, so you can omit or substitute it if you really don't like the flavor.

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Right, one of the 4 aromatic herbs, as I was taught. Leek, Celery, Parsley and Carrots. – BaffledCook Oct 20 '10 at 20:13
None of those are herbs. – daniel Oct 20 '10 at 21:53
Excuse my English: Vegetables. – BaffledCook Oct 20 '10 at 22:21

When used in sauces as a building block (e.g. mirepoix, soffrito, the Louisianian Trinity), celery is used to provide only flavour. These flavours come from terpenes which provide aromas of citrus, pine, and (to me) grass, as well as a pleasing bitterness. Other flavours are provided by phthalides, which celery shares with walnuts.

Research indicates that the same phthalides, while largely flavourless, enhance umami flavours in food. In addition, they seem to have some health benefits.

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