Celery is one of those vegetables loaded with vitamins and minerals. Celery is also low in calories, which makes it a favorite snack for those trying to lose some weight.
This edible stalk is also priced for its bright aromatic flavor. It’s certainly a compulsory ingredient in making soup and stock.
Perhaps, your local grocery store doesn’t always have fresh celery stalk in stock. So, you’re thinking of buying more and keep for later use.
Unfortunately, refrigeration only keeps celery fresh for a couple of weeks. Luckily, freezing increases its shelf life significantly. So, how do you freeze celery?
Freezing celery has its benefits and drawbacks. Let’s go through this article to learn when freezing celery makes sense. We also provide a step-by-side guide for freezing celery. So, read on!
When Does Freezing Celery Make Sense?
Fresh, raw celery is crisp and crunchy. That’s why celery is excellent as a snack on its own, added into green salads, or made into finger food.
Freezing celery considerably affects its texture. It becomes mushy after thawing. Therefore, frozen celery is more suitable for use in cooked dishes.
It is less tasty to incorporate in raw dishes, like salad or finger foods, where texture matters the most.
On the bright side, freezing celery extends its shelf life from only weeks to months. So, if you’re against wasting food, freezing celery is worth trying.
How To Freeze Celery
The steps in freezing celery are relatively similar to other vegetables, like kale, cabbage, or broccoli.
Raw vegetables do not freeze well because they contain an enzyme that causes loss in texture, flavor, and color. Blanching inactivates this enzyme, subsequently slowing down the deterioration process. (*)
If you plan to freeze celery for the long term, blanching is definitely a must. You can skip blanching for short term freezing of 1 to 2 months.
Check this step-to-step guide on how to freeze and store celery in freezer.
1. Selecting the best celery stalk
To get started, it’s essential to choose the best celery to freeze. Make sure the stalk is fresh, crisp, and tender. Avoid stalks with coarse strings. But, those all you got, remove the strings by peeling them off using a vegetable peeler.
2. Washing the celery
Rinse celery stalks under running water. Scrub the surface and get rid of dirt and other debris.
3. Chopping the celery
It is easier to cut fresh, raw celery. So, it’s recommended to freeze sliced celery instead of a whole stalk—at least cut it in half.
With a sharp knife, trim the base of the stalk. Next, chop the stem into smaller pieces, approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. This size is perfect for most cooking recipes.
4. Blanching the celery
You will need two big pots for blanching. Fill one pot with water and bring to a boil. Fill the other pot with an equal amount of ice and cold water.
In the boiling water, cook the prepared celery stalk for 3 minutes. (*)
Try not to overcrowd the pot and repeat this step if you’re freezing a large batch.
Use a timer, so you know precisely when to stop the cooking. Otherwise, you’ll end up with undercooked or overcooked celery.
Next, remove the boiled celery from the pot and transfer to the ice bath. This step should be done rapidly to stop the cooking process.
Drain the chopped celery in a colander, shake off the excess moisture, and dry it with a kitchen towel.
By now, we have prepped the celery, and it’s ready to freeze.
5. Freezing for long term
Portion the prepped celery into an appropriate serving. A single serving pack is handy for thawing. You won’t need to thaw a big bag and have leftovers. A smaller container also saves time for thawing.
Pack the celery into a freezer bag or container. Remove as much air as possible from the bag.
Label each pack with a freezing date and the amount. Place the bags in the freezer for future use.
It is recommended to check the temperature of your freezer once in a while. Freezer temperature should be set to 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower. At this temperature, frozen foods remain safe to keep indefinitely.
How To Use Frozen Celery
Frozen celery is best to use for cooked dishes instead of for salad or raw snacks. We’ve compiled a list on using frozen celery for various purposes:
– use in cooked dishes, such as stew, casseroles, roasted vegetables, stuffing, and sauces;
– to add flavor in the soup and broth; and
– make it into smoothies and juice.
How To Defrost Frozen Celery
Thawing frozen vegetables is incredibly easy. You can just place an appropriate amount in the refrigerator for a few hours.
To be on the safe side, transfer the package before you go to bed, so you can have it ready the next day.
In most cases, thawing is not necessary. You can just throw frozen celery into the pan for cooking. Let it thaw while cooking. Easy peasy.
How Long Can I Freeze Celery?
Fresh celery only holds its freshness for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Freezing improves the shelf life for 10 to 12 months if you blanch the stalk. (*)
If you skip the blanching step, frozen celery should be used in 1 to 2 months.
After these periods, frozen celery is likely safe to use. However, you may expect a drastic change in quality.
If you want to refrigerate celery, you don’t need to wash it. Instead, wash it before using it. If you’re going to freeze it, yes, you need to wash it thoroughly. This way, you can have frozen celery ready on the go. Throw it instantly frozen into the pan or juicer.
To revive limp or wilted celery, start with cutting off the base of the stalk. Next, you can cut the stalk into smaller pieces or leave it like this. Fill a bowl with ice and cold water. Submerge the stalk in the icy water for a few hours. It should be as crisp as a fresh one. Use it immediately or keep it refrigerated in a sealed container.
Celery is valued for its texture and bright flavor. Don’t worry when you have old celery that’s already limp or wilted. You can always salvage it to flavor soup or broth.
Freezing celery considerably affects its texture. After freezing, celery won’t be as crisp as fresh ones. Frozen celery is suitable for use in cooked dishes instead of in raw snack or salad.
Despite the loss in texture, freezing significantly improves its shelf life from only a couple of weeks to a year. Don’t forget to blanch celery stalk properly for long term freezing. Otherwise, use unblanched frozen celery within 1 to 2 months.
See more: Best substitute for celery
*image by depositphotos.com/stockasso