How to Store Celery to Keep It Fresh

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?

The Short Answer

Store celery in the fridge. The easiest method is to keep it in a ventilated bag in the crisper drawer. For a few extra days of storage, you can remove the celery from the bag and wrap it with aluminum foil instead.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Want to know more? Here’s what we discuss below:

  • storing celery – details on how and why
  • when you can leave celery on the counter
  • options for storing cut celery and celery sticks
  • reviving limp celery

Let’s jump right in.

Celery leftovers
Celery leftovers

How to Store Celery to Keep It Fresh

Store your celery in a ventilated bag in the crisper drawer in the fridge. If yours came in a plastic bag, poke some holes in it, or leave it half-open.

If you need your celery to last a few days longer, discard the bag and wrap the celery head in aluminum foil. Make sure you don’t fold the edges, so there’s a way for ethylene to escape.

Those are the best methods for storing celery. They work best because while celery prefers a humid environment and doesn’t mind cold temperatures, it’s sensitive to ethylene gas.

Leaving the top open, poking some holes in the bag, or not crimping the edges of the foil all make sure the veggie doesn’t lose too much water. But at the same time, they allow the ethylene gas (excess of which will turn celery yellow and limp) to escape.

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 quite good at trapping moisture, so your celery won’t go limp quickly, even if it’s not in the crisper.

How to store celery: a ventilated bag
How to store celery: a ventilated bag

Speaking of ethylene gas, store celery away from ethylene producers such as apples, pears, bananas, and more.

Finally, if you buy celery at the farmer’s market and it’s not in a plastic bag, throw it in the crisper drawer as is. It should retain quality for at least a week, plus you’re doing Earth a favor by using less plastic.

Oh, and one more thing.

Everyone recommends storing celery wrapped in aluminum foil as the best method. And it probably is. But it has two drawbacks:

  • that aluminum foil will end up in the trash can, which is wasteful
  • it adds yet another thing to your todo list (i.e., you probably won’t do it most of the time)

Because of that, I recommend the not-so-optimal storage method that’s more environment-friendly and requires only an extra 15 seconds (tops) before you put the celery head to storage.

Cut up celery
Cut up celery

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 a celery head at room temperature on the counter, 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 well over a week if it’s a fresh one.

In other words, unless you’re going to use that celery within 1 to 2 days, it’s best to refrigerate it.

Related: How long does celery last?

Last but not least, you should refrigerate cut-up or cooked celery, no questions asked.

How to Store Cut Celery/Celery Sticks

The easiest way to store cut celery is to place it in a freezer bag or a resealable container in the fridge. Celery stored this way should retain quality for 3 to 4 days. To get a few extra days, you can refrigerate celery sticks submerged in cold water.

If you go with the latter, remember to change the water every other day.

Celery in an airtight container
Cut-up celery in an airtight container, ready for storage

How to Store Cooked Celery

Cooked celery should be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days tops.

That means if you’re meal prepping for the week ahead, you can leave enough food for the next 3 to 4 days in the fridge, but the rest has to be frozen.

Related: Can you freeze celery?

And if you find that container in the fridge after more than 4 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.

Cooked celery soup
Cooked celery soup, put the lid on and in the fridge once it cools

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.

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.