Did you know celery was first cultivated for the King of Persia, dating back to 2000 BC?
While it was once primarily used for medicinal purposes, the celery that we know is now a staple in salads, soups, stews, and stir-fries.
The long, crisp and chewy celery sticks are 94 percent water but still contain essential minerals and vitamins, such as A, C, E, and B-complex. It is low in calories but rich in fiber, so it is a must-have vegetable if you’re trying to lose weight.
Celery is enjoyed best when it is fresh, firm, and crisp. However, the biggest challenge with this veggie is its short shelf life – about 1 week. Most of us use just 1 or 2 stalks for any kind of dish. The rest of it is shoved into the crisper in the refrigerator, only to turn soft and wimpy and ultimately end up in the trash can.
If you wish to avoid wasting food, you can use some really simple hacks to store celery for 3 to 4 weeks or even up to a year. We tried all the popular methods available on the Internet and bring to you the three best ways to preserve celery that actually work.
- Method 1: Aluminum Foil
- Method 2: Damp Paper Towel
- Method 3: Blanching & Freezing
Method 1: Aluminum Foil
The first and the most effective way to store celery is to wrap the stalks in aluminum foil. Celery produces a natural ripening hormone called ethylene that gets trapped inside the plastic bags it is sold in and causes it to ripen and turn flaccid. Wrapping celery in aluminum foil allows the gas to escape while maintaining the moisture to keep it fresh.
You can store your celery for up to 4 weeks using this hack.
Things you’ll need:
- Aluminum foil
- Chopping board
Step 1. Chop off both ends of the celery and rinse the celery stalks
- Place the celery bunch on the chopping board and chop off the base. This will separate all the stalks.
- Chop off the celery leaves as well. You can save the leaves in a ziplock bag and use them later to prepare chicken or vegetable stock.
- Thoroughly rinse the celery stalks under running water to remove all the dirt and impurities.
- Give them a light rub with your fingers to get rid of any stuck debris.
Step 2. Wrap the stalks in aluminum foil & refrigerate them
- Bundle up the stalks and place them diagonally at the corner of a piece of aluminum foil, as shown in the image above.
- Roll them up tightly in the foil, ensuring that you’ve covered the stalks completely.
- Loosely seal both ends of the foil to allow the ripening gas to escape.
- Place the foil roll in the crisper section of your refrigerator until needed.
- To avoid waste, you can reuse the foil 3 or 4 times to store new batches of celery.
Method 2: Damp Paper Towel
Preserving celery requires maintaining the right moisture. Less water will cause the stalks to dry out and wilt, while excess moisture will make them rot quickly. Wrapping celery in a damp paper towel will ensure just the right amount of water to keep the stalks firm and crisp.
This method will keep your celery fresh for 3 to 4 weeks, provided you change the paper towel every week.
Things you’ll need:
- Celery stalks
- Paper towels
- Water in a spray bottle
Step 1. Wrap the celery stalks in paper towels
- Cut and rinse the celery stalks as described in Step 1 of Method 1.
- Place 2 or 3 stalks in the corner of a paper towel and wrap them up, as shown in the image above. If you have more stalks, prepare several batches.
Step 2. Dampen the paper roll & store it in the refrigerator
- Spray the paper towel with mists of water. The roll should be barely damp, not dripping wet.
- You can either store the wrapped bundle as is or place it in an airtight box and pop it in your refrigerator.
- You’ll need to check the bundle weekly to make sure that the paper towel is not too wet. If it is, replace it with a fresh paper towel to keep your celery fresh.
Method 3: Blanching & Freezing
If you wish to store celery for even longer, then go for the blanching technique. The process involves scalding the celery stalks in boiling water, then plunging them immediately in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This stalls the natural enzymatic process and helps maintain the flavor, color, and texture of the vegetable longer.
This method will help preserve the celery for up to 1 year.
Things you’ll need:
- Celery stalks
- Ice cubes
Step 1. Cook the celery in boiling water
- Fill a large saucepan halfway with water. If the stalks are too long, chop them in half so they fit into the pan.
- Bring the water to a boil and drop the celery stalks in it.
- Let the stalks simmer on high heat for 3 minutes. This process will also kill any microbes adhering to the celery.
- Let the stalks sit in the water while you prepare the cold bath.
Step 2. Drop the cooked celery in ice water
- Put 12 to 15 ice cubes in a large bowl.
- Fill the bowl halfway with cold distilled water.
- Using a pair of tongs, transfer the celery directly from the hot water into the ice water.
- Let it sit for a minute to cool off.
Step 3. Put the celery in an airtight container & freeze it
- Transfer the celery stalks from the ice water to an airtight container.
- Pop the container into your freezer to store your celery.
Note: Avoid thawing the celery before using it, as it will turn soft and mushy. Take it out of the freezer and add it directly to your dish to retain the crispiness.
- You can also refrigerate celery by placing the stalks in an airtight container and adding some water to it.
- If you’ve used all the celery you need for cooking or salads, you can use the leftover celery sticks in cocktails, such as Bloody Mary’s.
- If you're interested in learning how to store herbs and vegetables to make them last longer, you can check out how to store mint for up to 3 months, how to keep garlic fresh for up to 6 months, and how to preserve potatoes for up to 1 year.
- You can also start growing your own celery using the bottom that you cut off your celery bunch in Step 1 of Method 1. Simply put the bottom part upside down in a bowl filled with water. Place it in a sunny corner. You’ll notice new shoots coming out in the water after 1 to 2 weeks. You’ll have to keep the water clean by changing it weekly to prevent the celery from rotting. Once it develops shoots, plant the cut part upright in a mud pot.