Moisture is essential to storing celery and ensuring it will stay fresh. However, you don’t want to leave it in the plastic bag it came in from the store, because it will let the moisture escape, and trap in the gases that spoil the celery.
Thankfully, you don’t need many items to keep celery stored, though you will want to make sure it is refrigerated as soon as possible.
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How to Store Celery Properly
Storing celery uncut and still together is the best way to keep it fresher and crisper for the longest amount of time.
However, sometimes you need to save time for yourself later, or buy celery pre-cut. We’ll talk about multiple ways to store your celery that can accommodate your needs!
How to Store Uncut Celery
For best results, wrap your uncut celery in a damp paper towel and put it in a crisper storage container like this one, or even a cotton crisper bag like this. Make sure to wrap the celery as tight as possible to lock in moisture, but not so tight that you are crumpling the celery stalks.
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If you’re reading this because you need to store your celery ASAP and don’t have one of these containers, you can also store it in aluminum foil straight out of the bag from the store. The aluminum is a better protection for the celery.
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Simply take the celery out of the plastic bag from the store, wrap it in a damp paper towel, then foil. If your fridge has a vegetable crisper, store the wrapped up celery there. If your fridge doesn’t have a crisper, still put it in the fridge but keep it out of the coldest areas because celery can freeze easily.
Do not wash the celery until you are ready to eat it or cook with it!
Storing Cut Celery
Store cut celery in a sealable container, completely submerged in clean, filtered water. You’ll want to avoid stuffing too much celery inside so you have room for the water. Additionally, you’ll want to completely remove the base and the leaves.
If you do not have a container with a lid, you will need plastic wrap to seal the container. If you store the celery without water, it will dry out and become rubbery.
This method keeps the celery moist as long as possible, which is essential to making it last. Additionally, try to keep the celery in as long of stalks as possible for optimal freshness and crispiness. However, this is limited by the size of your container.
If you don’t have a large container, but do have a tall glass or pitcher, you can also store the celery in one of those. Still be sure to cover the glass or pitcher and replace the water the celery is submerged in every day or two.
But if you are looking for a container, here is a good one from Amazon.
- Waste less and save more with OXO GreenSaver Produce Keepers, a complete food storage system designed to keep produce fresher longer
You will also want to replace the water every other day or so to prevent bacteria build up and keep your celery even fresher. When you are ready to eat your celery, just rinse it off and enjoy!
How Long Can You Store Celery?
Celery can be stored in aluminum foil for 4 weeks in the crisper drawer so long as you don’t wash or cut it until you plan on eating it or cooking with it. Storing it in foil outside the crisper drawer keeps celery good for about 2 weeks. Cut celery in containers is good for roughly 1-2 weeks. Without a lid, it will only last a few days.
Celery can also be stored in the freezer for up to a year, but it will be mushy when thawed. However, if you want to use celery in stews, smoothies, or sauces, freezing celery beforehand won’t matter.
Steamed or otherwise cooked celery can be stored in the fridge for about a week before it goes bad.
How to Tell if Celery Has Gone Bad
Celery goes bad due to a gas called ethylene, which can’t escape plastic bags, but can escape aluminum foil.
Celery that is kept moist will not emit as much ethylene, prolonging the time it takes celery to rot. Some quick checks for spoiling celery are:
Bad celery takes on a yellowish color. Black spots on the celery are indicative of rotting. You can also check if the base of the celery is turning red or brown due to fungus. If your celery is black, red, or brown, throw it out or put it in the compost. Yellow celery can be eaten with caution.
Celery goes limp and rubbery when it starts to spoil. The celery bunch will start to spread and not hold together anymore because it has become soft.
Limp celery by itself might not be bad, but it certainly won’t taste as crisp. It can be used for cooking rather than snacking. Check for other signs of spoiling first, however.
If the celery is really bitter or, alternatively, has no taste at all, it is likely bad. This can happen even if the celery still looks crisp and green because it was treated with chemicals to preserve the look of freshness.
Celery can also start to smell rotten when it goes bad. Trust your nose and throw it out if you are at all suspicious.
If your celery has two or three of the problems on this list, throw it out!
Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Celery
In order to keep your celery as fresh as possible and prolong its life, avoid these mistakes:
- Do not wash your celery until you intend on using it. Washing it too early can accelerate the spoiling process.
- Only wash the portions of celery you intend to use, too, leaving the rest of the celery intact.
- Don’t keep celery in the same container as other fruits or vegetables, as different produce have different rates of decay and some can speed up the rotting process of others – apples are notorious for causing other fruit to rot first!
- It is most important to get the celery out of the plastic bag it came in and put it in some other type of storage!