Celery is a vegetable that has been an essential ingredient in kitchens since ancient times. You can find celery can in almost any store around the year, but it’s an easily perishable vegetable. Celery is packed with nutrients and vitamins, but to enjoy all the benefits of celery, you have to know how to store celery for maximum freshness. You can store celery in the fridge for quite some time but, there are a few things you have to do for your celery to remain fresh and tasty when you do use it, so read on.
Celery perishes especially fast because of its high water content. As you store the celery, you will notice it has become limp and wilted. If you try to eat it, you’ll find the texture to be chewy. When fresh and crispy, celery is an excellent addition to your salads or cocktails, but when it’s wilted and limp? Not so much. But don’t worry! It is pretty easy to keep your celery fresh and crispy. In this blog post, you will find all the knowledge you need to store celery best to retain its freshness, crispness, and flavor for the longest time possible.
How to Buy Celery
Before you start worrying about keeping your celery fresh for a longer time, it’s vital that you first know how to buy the best produce.
- Choose celery where the stalks are packed together. While it’s okay for the stalks to be a little fanned out, avoid the celery with stalks that are spread out too much.
- The stalks on the outside of the bunch should be firm and have a medium thickness. However, it’s okay if the stalks in the center are a little thin.
- Feel the texture of the stalks to check if they feel crisp. Skip over the celery that feels rubbery. Celery with limp leaves will probably also have limp celery stalks.
- Celery stalks should be a vibrant green color without any discoloring or yellow spots.
The simple trick in keeping the celery fresh is to keep it hydrated. There are a few different ways of doing this, and in the sections below, we describe the different approaches.
How to Store Celery in Water
Celery has to be cut before you store it in water. Start by removing the stalks from the bunch and rinsing them in water to get rid of any dirt. Next, trim the base and woody tops from the celery stalks. Remove the leaves from the celery stalks as well. Storing the leaves in water will have a reverse effect and cause them to rot faster. Finally, cut all of your celery stalks in half.
Once all your celery is prepped, get the container you will use to store the celery ready. If you have an airtight container that you can use – excellent! Otherwise, you can also use a large bowl. Transfer all your washed and cut celery to your container and fill it with filtered water, leaving an inch headspace. If you are using an airtight container, close its lid and store it in the refrigerator. If you are using a bowl, cover it with a saran wrap to stop exposure to air.
To maximize the celery’s shelf life, remember to drain out the water and fill your container with fresh filtered water every day or at least every other day. Eventually, your celery will start to go bad even when stored in this way. Therefore, always check the celery when refilling the container and discard any stalks that have degraded.
Celery will easily last for 3 – 4 weeks when stored using this method.
How to Store Celery By Wrapping It
One of the main reasons for celery to go bad quickly is storing it in a plastic bag. Most plants, celery included, give off ethylene which is a ripening hormone. Keeping celery or any other plant in a plastic bag traps the ethylene, which causes the plant to decay much quicker.
Instead of using plastic bags, always use an alternative that will allow the ethylene to escape. For example, an alternative to using plastic bags is using aluminum foil or paper towels.
Storing celery in aluminum foil is one way to keep it fresh and crisp for a longer time. Wrap your celery bunch tightly in foil and place it in the crisper section of the fridge. The foil allows the ethylene to escape and still limits the exposure to air, thus helping in keeping the celery fresh. If you are using just a few stalks and storing the rest, make sure to wrap the remaining celery tightly as well.
Celery stored in this way will last for up to 2 – 3 weeks without a problem.
You can get similar results as using aluminum foil by using paper towels. First, tear off a section of paper towel that’s large enough to wrap around the celery. Next, run the paper towel in some cold water and squeeze out excess water. The paper towel should be damp and not soaking wet. If possible, you can use a spray bottle to spray some water on the paper towel to get it damp.
If you are storing your celery with the leaves intact, wrap the paper towel only on the bottom part of the stalk, leaving the leaves open to the air. Wrap the paper towel tightly, and secure it with a rubber band. Next, wrap the celery in a plastic bag while still leaving the top and leaves open to the air. This way, your celery will still be hydrated and will also allow the ethylene to escape.
One point to remember when using the paper towel method is that the paper towel will deteriorate much quicker than aluminum foil, especially after being sprayed with water. So check on your celery every few days and if the paper towel seems to be falling apart, replace it with a new one.
Celery that’s stored using this technique will last for 2 – 3 weeks in your refrigerator.
How to Store Pre-Cut Celery
You can extend the life of leftover celery that’s already chopped as well! You can use the water method described above or even use aluminum foil to store it. If you are using water to store the celery, use an airtight container and remember to switch the water every other day to elongate the celery’s freshness. This method is preferred as once cut, celery stalks dehydrate much faster, and the water in the container helps keep them hydrated. But if you are worried about keeping a container full of water in your fridge, don’t worry; you can still store the celery using aluminum foil. Just be cautious about how long you are keeping it in storage.
Precut celery will last in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 weeks.
Freezing celery is another excellent way to make it last longer. The steps are pretty simple, cut your celery into small pieces, blanch them, flash freeze them, and once they have frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container for long-term storage. Blanching is an optional step when freezing celery, but it does increase the storage time for celery. It also helps in retaining the color and taste of celery better.
Celery frozen without blanching will last for about two months, while celery that’s frozen after blanching can last up to 12-18 months.
We have an excellent post about how to freeze celery that you can check out here!
How to Revive Limp Celery
Whether you have some limp celery stalks or an entire head of celery that you forgot about in storage, don’t worry! We have a simple trick for you to revive your celery to get it nice and crisp and fresh!
Fill a large bowl with some ice-cold water and add in your celery sticks. Leave it undisturbed for half an hour, and voila! You will have crisp celery once more! If you have an entire head of celery you want to revive, then cut off about ½ inch from the root and then place it in the ice water. The cut section will allow the celery to absorb the water better and become crisp again.
Use this revived celery within 3 – 4 days.
Celery is a vegetable that can last for a pretty long time if stored correctly. However, it’s still important to know whether your celery is going bad in storage. You can quickly identify if your celery is going bad. Stalks that have a vibrant green color are best. Bad celery has a more whitish color with a hollow center. As the celery is starting to go bad, you will notice the stalks starting to spread apart. If you find your celery leaves are wilted and slimy, discard them immediately.
It is always essential that you are extremely safe with the food you are consuming. Always check on your produce to make sure that it is still in good condition to consume. As a best practice, label your containers with the packaging date so that you are always aware of when exactly the product was stored and if you can consume it while it’s still safe to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions
Storing the celery in the refrigerator will help it in lasting longer. However, this does not mean that you cannot store it out of the fridge at all. If kept out of the refrigerator, store the celery in a cool place with some ventilation. The main reason for celery to go bad is that the water content in it starts decreasing. You can slow down this process by storing the celery using any of the techniques mentioned above.
Any way is acceptable for storage. However, if you plan to store without washing, remember to wash the celery properly before using it. And if you plan on storing the celery after washing, it’s best to dry the celery before you wrap it up for storage.
So there you have it, a detailed guide for all your celery storage questions. All you have to do is store celery correctly, and with a little bit of know-how, you can learn how to keep this often finicky and misunderstood vegetable at its best