Here’s all you need to know about storing celery. Learn two ways to store whole celery, how to go about cut celery, and what to do with cooked leftovers.
Bought a celery head for the first time and not sure if you should place it in the fridge or leave it on the counter? How to store celery?
Or maybe you’re looking for a good way to store celery without wrapping it in aluminum foil.
In other words, you’re looking for a primer on storing celery, and this article is exactly that.
How to Store Celery to Keep It Fresh
The easiest method to store celery is to keep it in a ventilated bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
For a few extra days of storage, you can remove the celery from the bag and wrap it with aluminum foil without folding the edges.
Those are the best methods for storing celery. They work best because they provide everything celery needs: a humid environment, cold temperature, and not too much ethylene gas.
Storing celery in the crisper helps maintain high humidity, as the veggie drawer is typically the most humid place in the fridge.
But if you can’t fit it in there, it’s not a big deal. That bag or aluminum foil are both quite good at trapping moisture, so your celery won’t go limp quickly, even if it’s not in the crisper.
Finally, don’t wash your celery before storage. Do that right before using or cooking. And if you already washed yours, dry it thoroughly before you place it in the fridge.
The Easy Method
Storing whole celery in a ventilated bag is an easy method.
If yours doesn’t come in one, you can poke holes in the plastic bag or place the celery in a resealable bag and leave it half open. Either one should get the job done.
Having the celery bagged helps it stay moist for longer, while the holes allow the ethylene gas to escape.
If you don’t have a plastic bag on hand, throw the celery in the crisper drawer as-is. It should still retain quality for at least a week, plus you’re doing Earth a favor by using less plastic.
The Best Method
The best way to store celery is to wrap it with aluminum foil without crimping the edges and place it in the crisper drawer. Stored this way, celery lasts up to two weeks, sometimes even longer.
The mechanics here are simple. The foil keeps the veggie nice and humid, preventing water loss, while the unfolded edges allow ethylene gas to release.
It’s a winning combination (shelf life-wise), but it has its drawbacks.
The first one is that the aluminum foil will end up in the trash can, which is wasteful. Sure, you can reuse it a couple of times if you’re diligent, but eventually, you’ll discard it because of normal wear and tear.
The second one, that you might have overlooked, is that having to wrap the celery adds yet another thing to your already overflowing to-do list. That means that, more often than not, you won’t actually store your celery this way.
When you’re busy with other things, it’s easier to leave the bag half-open, place it in the fridge, and call it a day.
That’s why I recommend the not-so-optimal method that’s more environment-friendly and requires only an extra 15 seconds (tops) to perform.
Does Celery Need to Be Refrigerated?
While you don’t necessarily have to refrigerate celery, it’s the best way to store it. If you leave celery at room temperature, it will start to soften within a couple of days and will probably be limp within 3 to 4 days.
If you store it in the fridge, on the other hand, it should retain quality for a week or even longer if it’s a fresh one.
In other words, unless you’ll use that celery within 1 to 2 days of buying, it’s best to refrigerate it.
How to Store Cut Celery
The best way to store cut celery is to place it in a freezer bag or a resealable container and refrigerate.
Stored this way, celery sticks should retain quality for 3 to 4 days.
You can refrigerate celery sticks submerged in cold water to get a few extra days. If you choose that option, seal the container with a lid or plastic wrap, and remember to change the water every other day.
Storing Cooked Celery
Cooked celery should be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. Before placing it in the fridge, cool the leftovers to about room temperature, but ensure the cooling period isn’t longer than two hours.
(That’s the 2-hour rule in practice.)
Those 3 to 4 days of storage means if you’re meal prepping for the week ahead, you should leave in the fridge enough food for the next 3 to 4 days and freeze the rest.
(Fortunately, you can freeze celery, and it’s not that difficult.)
And if you find that container in the fridge after more than four days of putting it there, toss its contents. While everything might look fine and smell okay, it’s no longer safe to eat. Better safe than sorry.
How to Use Limp Celery
If your celery head is softer than you’d like but otherwise seems perfectly okay, you can try reviving it. The method is as simple as it gets: cut it into sticks (remove the leaves and the head) and submerge the pieces in ice-cold water for 30 minutes.
(A similar method helps restore old lettuce.)
The loss of crispness is a direct result of water loss, and placing the celery in a bowl filled with water is a way to rehydrate the veggie. Don’t expect miracles from this method, but a slight quality improvement.
Next, if your celery is already quite old and somewhat wilted, consider using it in smoothies or cooked dishes only.
In those, the texture of the veggie isn’t all that important, and using celery stalks that are not quite up to par for a salad (e.g., coleslaw) is just fine. Chances are, nobody will tell the difference.
Roasted veggies, soups, smoothies, and making stock are excellent options for limp celery. For more, read my article on freezing celery.
Celery Storage Summary
Thank you for reading this short guide on storing celery. Let’s briefly recap what we’ve covered above:
- How to store celery? Refrigerate celery in a ventilated plastic bag in the veggie drawer. If you need it to last for a couple of days longer, remove it from the bag, wrap with aluminum foil without folding the edges, and replace it in the fridge.
- Do you need to refrigerate celery? No, but storing it in the fridge allows it to retain quality for up to two weeks, while leaving it at room temperature gives you only 2 to 3 days of decent quality.
- How to store cut celery? Refrigerate cut celery in a resealable container or freezer bag for 3 to 4 days. If you need a few extra days, consider submerging celery sticks in cold water.
- How to store cooked celery? Store cooked celery in the fridge in an airtight container or lidded pot and use it within four days. If you need more time, consider freezing the leftovers.
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