How Long Does Celery Last and How to Tell if It’s Bad?

Bought a celery head or two and wondering how long until the veggies go bad? That’s what made you wonder: how long does celery last?

Or maybe yours already sits in storage for a week or so and, after a quick glance, you’re not quite sure it’s safe to eat. So, how do you tell if celery is bad?

If either of these sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. Here’s what we cover below:

  • the shelf life of celery, including cooked and cut celery
  • signs that your celery is spoiled
  • basics on storing celery at home

Interested? Read on.

Celery head in hand

How Long Does Celery Last?

CounterFridge
Celery2 – 3 days1 – 2 weeks
Cut-up celery4 – 7 days
Prepackaged celery sticksUse-by + 3 to 4 days
Cooked celery3- 4 days

Fresh celery keeps for 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge and only 2 to 3 days if you leave it at room temperature. Once you cut it up, cut celery keeps for 4 days to maybe a week, depending on whether it just sits sealed in the fridge or is submerged in water. After you cook it, celery lasts 3 to 4 days, similar to other cooked dishes.

As you might imagine, the storage time depends on how fresh the veggie is and how exactly you store it. You can keep celery a bit longer with better storage conditions (more on that later).

Of course, if you’re buying packaged celery heads or celery sticks, the bags they come in usually have a use-by date printed on them. Those dates are pretty good indicators of storage time, and you shouldn’t expect the celery to retain quality for longer than a couple of days past those dates.

If those periods aren’t enough for your needs, you can freeze celery. The only downside is that celery stalks soften after defrosting, and they’re best used in smoothies and cooked dishes.

Cooking celery soup
Cooking celery soup

How to Tell if Celery Is Bad?

Celery becomes soft and bendable over time. Discard it if it gets to the point that it’s mushy, slimy, or way too soft for your needs. Do the same if the leaves start to grow mold, the celery is cooked and stored for more than 5 days, or shows any other obvious signs of spoilage.

Of course, celery doesn’t go from crisp to slimy instantly – there’s a spectrum. It’s okay to use one that’s a bit on the softer side and somewhat wilted as long as you’re cool with its quality. But once it becomes slimy, it’s game over.

Celery: mold setting in
Celery: mold setting in, time to toss
Tip

You can revive limp celery that’s otherwise fine. Cut it into sticks and place it in ice-cold water for 30 minutes to regain some of its crispness.

Like most veggies, celery stalks might have some damaged, bruised, discolored, or woody areas, and that’s okay. You simply cut them out or peel them off during prep and never worry about them again.

Celery damaged area
Celery damaged area – just peel it off

Next, let’s talk about color. Fresh, crisp stalks are usually light green and full of color, while older ones lose some of that color and look a bit pale.

That said, the firmness of the celery stalk (or rib) is the primary indicator of quality, and checking its color is only a helpful heuristic.

Tip

Choose different dishes based on the quality of your celery. While a crisp stalk works in all possible uses, an old bendable one is best used in cooked dishes or smoothies. In those uses, you can hardly tell the difference between super fresh celery and one that’s running out of time.

Celery chunks in a smoothie
Celery chunks in a smoothie

How to Store Celery?

Main article: How to store celery?

The easiest way to store celery is to keep it in a ventilated bag in the crisper drawer. It might not be optimal, but it’s good enough for the veggie to last more than a week.

An important thing to remember is that celery is sensitive to ethylene, and you should store it away from any ethylene-producing fruits and veggies because of that. Otherwise, it might go overripe quicker than you’d like.

Celery in a ventilated bag
Celery in a ventilated bag

The above means that you probably shouldn’t keep bananas, apples, pears, or any other ethylene producers in the crisper, as celery definitely isn’t the only veggie sensitive to this gas.

For cut celery, you can store it in an airtight container or bag, or keep it submerged in water for a couple of extra days of storage. Make sure you change the water every other day, though.

But no matter which option you choose, keep cut-up celery refrigerated.

Celery soup plated
Celery soup plated