How to Refrigerate and Freeze Celery

Don't let your celery go limp and lifeless by using these celery storage tricks! Mike Licht Flickr

Don’t let your celery go limp and lifeless by using these celery storage tricks! Mike Licht Flickr

 

If you find a good price on celery, you can refrigerate or freeze it to save it for later use. Normally, you need to use celery within a week, but with these tricks, you can lengthen that time up to 18 months. From blanching and freezing to vacuum sealing it in a container for the fridge, you can find a suitable storage method.

Buying Celery

It is advisable to buy the freshest celery that has no blemishes and is crisp to the touch. Garden-fresh celery is bright green, crisp, and fragrant. You can buy celery hearts but they tend to be more expensive. It is more frugal to buy the whole stalk.

However, if you get a good deal in the reduced produce bin, don’t overlook it. The celery should be bright green, not yellow, and not rotten. You can cut away blemishes, such as darkened cuts and bruises. You cannot salvage limp, yellowed celery. Promptly process produce that is past its sell-by date or damaged.

Storing Celery in the Refrigerator

Did you ever wonder why grocers do not seal the bags of celery? Uncut celery stores better when it has airflow. Some people advise that you wash it when you use it but others say you can wash it ahead of time. This is probably a personal preference so you can do whatever is more convenient for you. Thoroughly wash your celery before eating to remove bacteria and pesticides.

If you are using the celery within the week, you can cut it, wash it, and store it. Store in plastic containers, such as Ziploc® containers, or in plastic bags like Ziploc® storage bags. For best results, poke holes in the bag for airflow if the bag is tight around the celery. You can cut the celery into sticks, diced pieces, or slices.

Freezing Celery

Frozen celery is best for cooked dishes. It will not have the crispy crunch that fresh celery has but it will add good celery flavor. For convenience sake, chop or slice your celery before freezing. You can freeze the pieces on a baking sheet and bag it. This makes it easier to measure out the right amount for recipes.

You can also bag amounts that you commonly use in recipes. For example, I generally use one cup of celery for a small batch of chili. I bag sliced celery in 1-cup quantities to make it easier to add. Celery pieces frozen in large batches can be hard to separate without thawing.

You can use small containers, such as Ziploc® 1-cup containers, muffin tins, and others, to freeze small amounts of celery. Once frozen, you can bag several of these in a larger freezer bag. For more convenience, freeze celery with other vegetables including onions, peppers, parsley, carrots, and more. Just use the amounts that you typically use in recipes.

Blanching Stops Enzyme Activity

You can freeze unblanched celery but blanching stops enzyme activity that causes deterioration, flavor loss, and nutrition deficit. Blanched produce will keep months longer than produce that is simply frozen. If you plan to use the celery within a month, you can skip the blanching process. Blanched celery will keep for about 12 to 18 months in the freezer.

To blanch your produce, set up a pot of boiling water and a pot of ice water. When blanching, you should have one gallon of water per one pound of produce. You can blanch produce in batches if you do not have large pots. Just be sure to keep the hot water boiling and the cold water icy.

Chop or slice the celery. Heat the hot water to a rolling boil. Dip the produce in the boiling water for exactly 3 minutes. Longer time in the hot water will cook it too much and shorter time will not kill the enzymes. Immediately remove the celery from the boiling water and plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking process. Leave it in the cold water for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding ice as necessary to keep the water cold.

Using a FoodSaver® for Storing Celery

Although several factors, such as the maturity and variety of your produce, the accuracy in blanching or chilling times, and the temperature of your freezer, will determine how fresh your celery stays in the freezer, you can ensure a longer storage life by using a vacuum seal machine. Freeze your celery on a baking sheet, put in the FoodSaver® bag, and vacuum seal.

Celery vacuum-sealed and stored in the refrigerator will last longer than celery stored in regular containers. You can use vacuum seal bags or jars, if your machine has the attachments to seal jars. Reseal the jar or bag every time you use the celery.

Some people advise against using a vacuum sealer to store celery in the fridge, but many find that it does not significantly change the texture or taste. Experiment to see if you like this method of storage.

No matter what method you use, preparing your celery will help it last longer than when you simply toss it into the vegetable crisper. Do not forget to store the leaves for use in casseroles, stews, and other dishes. Even the leaves will benefit from the blanching process than destroys the harmful enzymes.

With a little planning and work, you can frugally save your bonanza of celery.



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