The celery stick is one of the most commonly used vegetables in any platter of veggies served up with dip. But celery is a versatile vegetable that can be served in any number of ways:
- As a crunchy snack on its own.
- As a crisp addition to a tossed salad.
- As a garnish in a Bloody Mary drink.
- Thrown into an Asian stir-fry.
- Served alongside chicken wings to help cool the intensity of the heat of the wing sauce.
Celery is most commonly sold as a full stalk, so you also get a lot of bang for your buck because most of the stalk is usable. But how do you ensure you get your money’s worth by using all the celery before it spoils?
Here are some tips for cleaning, storing and reviving celery.
How To Clean Celery Before Storing
If you want to have your celery trimmed and ready to eat, it’s important to wash it thoroughly first.
To do this, you will need a sharp knife for trimming, access to a sink and fresh water, and, if you prefer, some vinegar for disinfecting the vegetable.
Here’s how to clean celery:
- Break the individual stems of celery away from the base, or cut the bottom of the stalk to release all the stems.
- Trim the leaves off the top of the stalks and trim the bottoms, particularly if you don’t like the thick, white end of the outer stems.
- Wash each stem thoroughly under water, scrubbing with a brush if necessary. Dirt traps inside the stems so it’s important to be sure to clean the bottoms especially well.
- If you’re worried about pesticides or other germs, you can wash the celery in a bowl that contains 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Soak for 20 minutes then rinse well.
If your celery will be used in a stir-fry or in soup stock, it’s ready to go. If serving it raw – because celery has ribs along the outsides of the stems – some people prefer to eat it with those “strings” removed.
To cut the string off, take a paring knife, start at the top of the stem, make a small incision, and peel the strings off the backside of the celery stalks.
Cooking tip: If you like to make soup, you can freeze the leaf trimmings for later use, simply throwing them straight into the soup pot when you’re ready for them.
SEE ALSO: Best Vegetables For Juicing
How To Store Celery In The Fridge
There are several ways to store celery in the refrigerator. If you find that your celery is going bad quickly, it’s because it ripens by releasing the hormone ethylene.
When celery is stored in plastic, the plastic seals the hormone around the celery and hastens the ripening process, therefore also speeding up spoiling.
To solve this issue, whether the celery is washed or whole:
- Wrap your celery stalk tightly in aluminum foil.
- Keep the wrapped celery in the fridge.
- After each use, re-wrap it in the aluminum foil and put it back in the fridge.
Using this method, your celery should keep for 3-4 weeks. Celery turns white and gets hollow in the middle when it has spoiled.
You can also wrap the celery in a damp paper towel before wrapping in foil. This will help keep moisture in the celery, since it is a root vegetable with high water content.
Tip: Use a marker to write the date you purchased the celery on the aluminum foil. This will help you keep track of the age of the celery.
How To Store Cut Celery
It’s handy to have your celery pre-washed and ready to eat, whether you like to snack on it or use it in salads or other recipes.
If you have pre-washed your celery, one of the best ways to store it is in water. Here’s how it works:
- Find a container that holds the washed celery stalks, or cut the celery to fit into a container with a good lid that seals.
- Put cold water in the container.
- Place the celery in the water.
- Seal the lid and put the container in the fridge.
- Change the water daily to ensure the celery stays fresh.
With this method, celery should last up to four weeks in the fridge.
You can also use the aluminum foil method for storing cut celery. Wrap it tightly in foil and re-wrap after each use.
Can You Freeze Chopped Celery?
To keep celery for a longer period of time, it is possible to freeze it. Simply wash and chop the celery, put it in a sealable bag and place it in the freezer, where it will last for about three months.
To get a more flavorful batch of celery that will last for up to a year in the deep freeze, it’s better to blanch it first.
Blanching is a cooking process used to seal in vegetable quality and flavor prior to freezing. It involves boiling vegetables for a short period of time and then dunking them in cold water to stop the cooking process.
To blanch your celery, you will need a pot that’s big enough to hold the celery stems, filled with water, and a second pot or a large bowl filled with cold water.
Follow these steps:
- Wash the celery as described in the earlier section on cleaning celery.
- Cut the celery into the size you want, or to fit into your pot.
- Get the pot of water boiling.
- Once the water is boiling, put the celery into the boiling water for three minutes.
- Remove the celery after three minutes with a slotted spoon and submerge it in the cold water.
Once the celery has cooled, pack it into sealable freezer bags or containers and put it in the freezer. Again, it would be best to mark the date so you know how long it has been in storage.
What Can I Do With Limp Celery?
There’s nothing worse than pouring yourself a delicious Bloody Mary, only to get out the traditional garnish of a celery stick and find out your celery is limp.
Don’t despair! As long as the celery isn’t hollowed and white in the middle, it’s still good to use.
To refresh limp celery stalks:
- Slice them.
- Put them into a glass or bowl of ice water.
- Put the glass in the fridge for a few hours.
While this doesn’t help the immediate need for a Bloody Mary garnish, it will ensure you revive your celery sticks in time for a round of drinks later in the day. It will also allow you to serve the celery in a salad or on a vegetable and dip tray.
Celery is a versatile and common vegetable which is available year-round in most places.
It’s a crunchy snack that’s low in calories due to its high water content. But a large stalk of celery can spoil quickly if it’s not used. It can also go limp and seem unpalatable.
Armed with these tips for cleaning, storing, and reviving limp celery, you can enjoy this tasty veggie for several weeks after purchase.