Celery is commonly used in salads, cooking and garnishing dishes. It is known to bring greatness in dishes for its crunchiness and flavor. Celery can be stored either raw or cooked. In order to keep it fresh, you need to know the following methods to maintain its crispness and flavor for long.
Wrap celery with aluminum foil and store it in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. The foil allows ethylene gas to escape while keeping celery well moisturized for 2 weeks. If you intend to store it for longer, freezing is ideal and can keep it fresh for 8-12 months.
Best ways to store celery
Celery keeps fresh for long best in the refrigerator. However, celery can spoil really fast due to ethylene gas that it produces which speeds up spoilage if not properly stored.
Therefore, it is recommended to store celery wrapped in aluminum foil paper which allows ethylene gas to escape and keep it moisturized. It’s also advisable to store it away from lettuce which produces ethylene gas too as they may both end up getting spoiled faster.
Whole celery keeps fresh better and for longer because it retains moisture best this way. However, you can also preserve cut celery for a little longer by submerging it in water and storing it in the fridge.
Cut celery can also be blanched and stored in the freezer. Although it does not retain its crunchiness, its flavor remains intact all year long.
Once you get celery from the grocery store always keep it refrigerated to prolong its shelf life. Here is how to store celery in the fridge:
Refrigerating Whole celery
- Remove celery from the paper it came with. This is because plastic bag traps in ethylene gas released by celery hence speeding up spoilage.
- Wrap celery with aluminum foil paper.
- Place it in the crisper drawer.
Celery will keep fresh this way for 2 weeks if well stored.
Refrigerating cut celery
In case you cut more celery than you intend to use, refrigerate it using the following steps:
- Get a container that will fit your cut celery well.
- Put the celery in the container.
- Put clean water in the container covering the celery well.
- Seal the container tightly and put it in the fridge.
Frozen celery can stay fresh for months or even a year depending on how you freeze it. You can choose to freeze celery raw or cooked (blanched). Freezing raw celery is easy since it’s just cutting and popping in the freezer.
Raw frozen celery will not be of good quality in terms of flavor and color and can only keep fresh for two months before it starts to get mushy. On the other hand, blanched celery will keep fresh throughout the year retaining its flavor.
However, it’s best to use blanched celery in soups, stews, and sauces because it does not retain the crunchiness.
Here is how to store cooked (blanched) celery in the freezer:
- Rinse celery under running water. Separate the stalks to be able to rinse off the dirt that gets stuck in between.
- Cut celery into the size of your choice.
- Put water in a pot and bring it to boil.
- put celery in and let it boil for 3 minutes.
- Drain and put celery in ice-cold water for 3 minutes to stop the cooking process.
- Dry celery and spread them on a baking tray.
- Freeze your celery for 1-2 hours. Freezing celery loosely makes it easy for you to get the amount you need for a particular recipe without having to thaw the whole amount.
- Transfer frozen celery in freezing bags and seal tightly making sure to remove the air inside.
- Put the bags in the freezer.
Apart from these preservation methods, you can dry your herbs in a dehydrator and keep them as spices for long-term use.
Storing Cut Celery in the Fridge
Cut celery, whether leaves or stalks, will lose water at a high rate than when still intact. As such, the sticks will not remain fresh for long if not stored properly.
To store cut celery in the fridge, submerge the cut stalks in water in an airtight container and place them in the refrigerator. Set the fridge to a mid-low temperature to prevent the celery from freezing and losing their texture and becoming limp when you want to use them.
How to Keep Celery Sticks Fresh
To keep celery sticks or stalks fresh for about a couple of days, wrap them in an aluminum foil and place them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. The celery sticks can remain crisp and fresh for about 5 days. If they remain stored this way for longer, they’ll start to become limp.
So, here’s the best way to store celery sticks even when cut:
- Cut celery stalks into pieces when still fresh.
- Place them in an airtight container.
- Submerge the stalks in water or place them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
- Prep them a day or two before use.
Celery stalks can remain fresh whole or cut. If you want to keep them fresh and crisp, ensure the fridge does not get too cold to freeze all the water in the celery stalks.
If the celery stalks freeze while in the fridge, the thawing process will make them lose all the water, leaving them limp and soggy. This is not the texture you’re looking for even if you are going to put them in your favorite vegetable juicer.
Storing Celery Root
Celery root is also called celeriac. It is low in calories but has a starchy texture to it and is edible when used in recipes such as salads, soups etc. But when it comes to storing celery root, you want to put it in your fridge.
So, how long does celery root last in the fridge and how best can you store it?
To store celery root, wrap it in a plastic bag or place it in a ziploc plastic bag, remove the air and seal it in. Place it in the refrigerator for storage. Celery root will remain fresh for 10 to 14 days when stored properly in the fridge.
Celery root will retain its flavor when it is firm, so try not to store it for too long. While in storage, try not to wash it because if you do, it will affect its quality when ready to be consumed.
How to choose fresh celery
When shopping for a bunch of celery from the grocery store look for the following traits:
- Bright green leaves
- Green perky stalks
- Crispy stalks
How to know when celery is going bad
It’s easy to tell when celery is going bad by just looking and touching to feel its texture.
Celery will have the following traits when going bad:
- Stalks become soft and bendable. Celery becomes soft and bendable if left outside the fridge for a couple of hours. Although celery is still edible at this stage it will not be crunchy. You can re-crisp it back by cutting the stalks and putting them in ice water for two hours then use it in your favorite dish.
- It starts to discolor becoming whitish in color.
- It becomes hollow in the middle. Celery is still edible at this stage but needs to be re-crisped first to regain its crunchiness.
- Off smell. Get rid of celery when it gets to this stage as it is a sign of rotting.
- Mushy and slimy. This happens due to exposure to excess moisture. Get rid of it as soon as possible as it is unfit for consumption.
- Cornell University Extension: Fruits and Vegetables Storage Guidelines
- University of Nebraska, UNL Food: Food Storage Chart for Cupboard/Pantry, Refrigerator and Freezer