Celery is a distinctive-tasting salad vegetable. Whether you love the crunch of raw celery with a dipping sauce or you prefer yours cooked in a stew, celery is a very low-calorie vegetable choice and celery sticks make a healthy snack. Read on to discover how to store celery so it stays firm, crisp, and fresh, rather than wilting too quickly.
Celery stalks make a great appetizer or you can dice them for salad recipes. I almost always add some finely diced celery to chicken salad when I make it. Along with minced onions and pickles, I find it adds plenty of flavor and crunch.
This is an inexpensive vegetable and you can use it in many different ways, even as a garnish for a Bloody Mary cocktail. And when you know the best way to store fresh celery you will always be able to grab a crisp stalk or two for your recipe. Most grocery stores carry celery and you can get it by the bunch or already trimmed and prepped, as you prefer.
What is Celery?
Celery (Apium Graviolens) is enjoyed all over the globe. It's a member of the parsley family and is closely related to carrots and parsnip. The word "celery" comes from "celeri" in French as well as "seleri" in Italian.
While the long, light green stalks are typically eaten in North America as well as Europe, the root is also used in some parts of Europe as a root vegetable. The leaves can be eaten as well, although they have a strong flavor so aren't to everyone's taste. They can be a flavoring for stews or soups.
The taste of celery is especially good in soup recipes. And then you have celery seeds which can be used as a spice or ground and combined with salt to get celery salt.
It's believed this vegetable originated in the Mediterranean part of Europe and was consumed by the French in the mid-17th century. After this, wild celery was cultivated to make the stalks tastier for use in salad recipes. Colonists probably brought it to North America with them.
As for health benefits and nutrition, this vegetable is 95% water but does contain fiber, potassium, and folate, along with Vitamins A, C, and K, most of which are in the leaves but are also found in the stalks themselves.
How to Choose Celery
Perfectly ripe celery will have firm stalks and crisp green leaves. Don't buy any with brown or yellow patches.
Also, if the stalks bend that means the celery is past its prime.
How to Store Celery
Now you know how to pick the very best celery from the grocery store, you'll be wondering how to store it for the best results. This is how to extend the life of your celery and keep it perfectly crunchy for longer.
- Don't keep celery in the plastic bag or plastic wrap it came in, as this is not one of the recommended storage methods. Celery gives out ethylene gas which speeds up spoilage.
- Wrap it loosely in paper towels and then foil to lock in moisture, but also to let the gas escape, and keep it refrigerated in the crisper drawer.
- Change the damp paper towel to a dry paper towel when needed.
It can keep for weeks when stored this way but don't trim or cut it until you're ready to use it. Keep the celery whole to keep it fresh for a long time.
If you want to store celery that's already been cut, the best way is to submerge the chopped celery ribs in fresh water in a sealed container and change the water every day or so. Ice-cold water is best so keep it in the refrigerator.
Another option is freezing the celery in an airtight container or aluminum foil. Cut it into smaller pieces first. When it thaws, the limp texture won't be suitable for crudité platters or salads, but it will work well for soups or stews.
Stalks of celery wrapped loosely in foil and kept in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator should last for a week or perhaps a little longer. If you can't fit the whole celery bunch in the crisper drawer of your fridge, just keep it on a shelf instead.
How to Tell if Celery is Spoiled
While fresh celery should be bright green and firm, spoiled celery will be wilted and maybe also slimy or discolored. It should smell fresh and not sour or rotten.
It should be crisp and firm but is safe to consume if it's just started to wilt. If you see any mold, throw it out.
Your body uses energy to digest the food you eat but, since celery has 14 calories per cup, this popular myth isn't true. However, celery is very low in calories and a great addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
This crunchy, versatile vegetable can be used to make various kinds of appetizers. Ants on a Log is a popular snack, made by filling the indentation in a whole celery stalk with peanut butter and then adding raisins or chocolate chips along the top of the peanut butter. You can also cut celery into small pieces and serve chilled or at room temperature with a dip or two such as hummus or ranch dressing.
Facts You Didn’t Know
- The average American will eat 6 pounds of celery every year.
- Although peanut allergies are prevalent among Americans, more Europeans are allergic to celery than peanuts.
- While the ancient Chinese used celery as a medicine, the ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a flavoring for food.
Keeping celery fresh is important if you want to maximize the shelf life of this crunchy salad vegetable. Whether you prefer your celery served with a creamy dip, made into soup, celery juice, or even added to a stew, this low-calorie veggie offers nutrients and tastes delicious as well.