Celery

The Best Way to Store Celery Might Surprise You

If you aren’t supposed to keep celery in the plastic bag it came in, where are you supposed to keep it?

April 13, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Question: If you aren’t supposed to keep celery in the plastic bag it came in, how are you supposed to store it?

Answer: For the best results, keep celery heads whole, wrap them up tightly in aluminum foil, and then keep them in the refrigerator crisper drawer as usual. When stored this way, celery stalks can maintain their freshness anywhere from two to four weeks.

The plastic bag your celery came in traps in the ethylene it produces, which hastens its vegetal demise. From the kitchn we learned that Cook’s Illustrated found that aluminum foil was the best storage solution; it allows the gas to escape, so your celery will stay fresh longer. 

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The trick, though, is to wrap the aluminum foil tightly enough that a ton of moisture doesn't get out (keeping the celery heads whole also helps with this), but not so tightly that the ethylene can't escape (just make sure not to crimp or seal the edges).

Celery

Aluminum foil isn’t the most eco-friendly way to store produce, but it might be worth it in the name of preventing food waste. Plus, the aluminum foil could be reused multiple times to store a few rounds of celery if you’re carefully wrapping and unwrapping it. Then, once it starts to shred too much for wrapping celery, you can either recycle it or put it to use elsewhere, like cleaning your grill for winter storage.

Watch: How to Make Miso-y Charred Carrot Soup

If you’re the type of person that likes to cut celery stalks up ahead of time for easy snacking access, you might be tempted to store them in water. Resist the urge to carry on your grandmother's tradition (only this one, the rest are fair game). Cook's Illustrated says that you can "prep celery (and carrot) sticks up to two days ahead; there’s no need to store them in water. After that, they’ll begin to very slowly deteriorate, whether stored dry or wet.”

And if you do end up with limp celery stalks, don't despair—there are more than a few tasty ways to use it, from roasting it for a creamy-buttery soup to whipping up a celery-scented syrup for an ultra-refreshing homemade soda (or cocktail).  

A Few Crisp, Fresh Celery Recipes to Cook This Week

1. Italian Celery & Mushroom Salad

This raw celery salad is all about the texture, from the delicate crunch of the paper-thin shaved stalks to the soft sautéed mushrooms.

 

2. Celery & Za’atar Tabouli

If you love tabouli (and even if you think you don't), this hearty, flavor-packed version with za'atar, bulgur, celery, and feta will be your new favorite.

3. Chicken & Tofu Stir Fry with Celery & Cashews

An umami-rich marinade, chicken and tofu combo, and crunchy celeries and cashews all team up for the ultimate weeknight dinner. 

4. Celery & Lentil Salad with Tossed Salsa Verde

This salad earned nothing but rave reviews when it hit our test kitchen last year, and it the community agrees, with one reviewer writing: "I made this last night and it was delicious! Even if you are not a fan of capers and anchovies (I definitely am!), you will like this."

5. New Potato Salad with Crispy Radishes, Fennel & Celery

An A+ side dish for all manner of griled meats, this new potato salad with lots of crispy raw vegetables was made for warm weather. 

What food storage solutions do you swear by? Tell us in the comments below!

This article originally ran in November 2015, and was updated by the Food52 editors in April 2020. 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • msstein
    msstein
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    Marilyn Taylor
  • Brenda
    Brenda
  • DCThunder
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  • Leslie VB
    Leslie VB
I like esoteric facts about vegetables and think ambling through a farmers market is a great way to start the day. My first cookbook, available now, is called Cooking with Scraps.

75 Comments

msstein April 19, 2020
I’ve used heavy duty foil to store celery for many years. I find it fresh and crisp, even after several weeks. Just re-wrap after
removing what you need. When it’s lost it’s glow, dice and freeze or vacuum seal and then use in cooked dishes. No waste!
 
Marilyn T. April 19, 2020
For storing celery, I cut the root end off and cut the stalks to the length of a jar, then place them in the jar and fill it with water, then put the lid on and store it in the fridge. This technique keeps the celery fresh for at least two weeks. I change the water every few days as well. I also store carrots this way.
 
Brenda April 18, 2020
Interesting thread and will have to try it. I have never stored a whole stalk in water, but recently (pandemic shopping style) had some celery go a little limp on me before it was used, and was pleased to be able to revive it by trimming the ends and then storing in the refrigerator, in a tumbler, with a shallow amount of water in the bottom. It was crisp enough for several different uses over about a week's time.
 
DCThunder April 17, 2020
I've simply been soaking celery stalks in water in the sink overnight, draining it, and putting it either loose in the crisper drawer or in a "green bag". I've probably done this for over 60 years and never gotten sick. Perhaps my innards are coated with pesticide residue, but I love crisp celery out of the fridge and this ensures it. Why on earth would you wrap it in foil?
 
Leslie V. April 17, 2020
Sorry to be so dense. if you wrap the whole stock in foil..how do you clean it before.? not easy to get some grit out when it is whole.
Do you have to unwrap the whole stock everytime you want some, cut ..then clean the pieces when before eating or using, then rewrap. Does it go in the crisper? I will do the suggestion of chopping some and vac seal along with some onions.
Several years ago, I cut and washed each stock and then cut up several and wrapped in foil, and put in crisper.. Did not have much luck. At present i cut of root end, wash. cut eqach piece in half. Lay out to dry. Put in plastic bag with paper towel in bottom..leave the zip bag slightly open put in crisper. pretty good after 10-14 days. The leaved parts use for cooking and sometimes i dry the leaves in my F dryer. Due to illness and surgery recovery I am not driving and it is a long way to the stores anyway. So any help would be appreciated. Looking into fresh produce shipped in, every two weeks. Hope it can be arranged. Radishes and carrots i repackage and leave the bags slightly open too so they do not mold, etc.
Thank for any help.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 17, 2020
Hi Leslie - I wouldn't clean it first. All produce will last longer if you leave it unwashed until you're actually using it. That said, I know some folks just prefer to wash everything first so it's ready to go when they want it, so do whatever works best for you.
 
Smaug April 19, 2020
I usually wash produce at the time of use for procedural reasons, but I see no reason on earth why leaving it dirty would make it keep any better. Maybe something like celery that you'd have to split up to wash would wilt a little faster. Most produce has been rinsed and misted regularly before you buy it- in fact a lot of the time you have to dry it out when you bring it home before putting it away.
 
Smaug April 19, 2020
Ah- and then there are some fruits, such as apples, that are coated with wax or shellac to slow transpiration during long term storage- I suppose leaving that on would help them keep a bit longer.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 19, 2020
Hey Smaug - There are multiple sources you could find for this, but here's one from The Washington Post: "Washing fruits or vegetables before storing them makes them more likely to spoil, because dampness encourages bacteria growth, says food research scientist Amanda Deering of Purdue University."
 
Smaug April 19, 2020
Well, yes, you don't want to put it away wet. I could say the same for cutting boards, blenders, and practically anything else. You need to dry things out after you wash them, but then as often as not with produce you need to dry it out anyway.
 
Emily April 16, 2020
I cut my celery into sticks or keep the stalks whole and keep it in a container filled with water. Change it every couple of days and it will stay fresh.
 
mdelgatty May 11, 2020
I've often wondered if I'm throwing out nutrients with the water when I store veggies this way...
 
aviva B. April 16, 2020
All those years that I've been wrapping the celery in plastic bags.
This tip came at the perfect moment where I am getting this beautiful celery from Farm Fresh produce and we can't use it fast enough. Thanks for the tip !
 
Tatan B. April 16, 2020
I would have loved a photo of the celery wrapping! sorry but the explanation alone is not enough for me =(
 
Karen L. April 17, 2020
I AGREE!!! I do not get this. Wrap the whole thing? Tightly or not so tightly? A photo would be great.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 17, 2020
Hi friends, I will admit that I didn't even think about the need for a photo when I wrote this (5 years ago), so I apologize that it's now frustrating and confusing to not have one. I would pull out a piece of foil that's longer than the stalk (the somewhat-confusing name for the whole bunch of celery), lay it horizontally, set the celery on it horizontally, and pinch/roll/crimp the top and bottom (the two long edges) fairly tightly around the celery. (So now, visually, it's totally covered in foil, but the ends are open). Then I would loosely scrunch the ends and toss it in the fridge.
 
Karen L. April 17, 2020
THANK YOU!!!!
 
Tatan B. April 17, 2020
Thank you for the explanation !!! i will try it as soon as i buy the next one.
 
Carolyn A. April 18, 2020
Thank you so much for the explanation, I had the same questions.
 
mdelgatty May 11, 2020
I'm having trouble picturing how you could wrap it so the ethylene can get out but the water vapour can't...
 
Rosalind P. April 16, 2020
Please help me find a recipe about ten years ago I had an incredible Italian beef ragout where celery was the key ingredient and flavor. It was in a tomato sauce, so probably had the usual aromatics. I have tried to duplicate it, but failed miserably and have done searches without any luck. Does anyone know that dish? Celery flavor -- perfumey and fresh -- against the tomato sauce, Incredible. Anyone?
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 17, 2020
Try asking on the Hotline!
 
Rosalind P. April 17, 2020
Thanks for the tip. Embarrassed to say...don't know The Hotline. Is it part of Food52? Where/how to find it.?
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 17, 2020
Not at all, my fault for not sharing. It's a spot on Food52 where anyone can ask questions and get help from fellow home cooks and Food52 staffers: https://food52.com/hotline
 
Rosalind P. April 17, 2020
Thank you!
 
Tatan B. April 17, 2020
I do a pretty decent one using celery onions and carrots, all finely chopped so that you don't really feel them through the dish, perfect for kids!! you also need bacon and tomato sauce.
 
Rosalind P. April 17, 2020
Thanks for helping. The dish I remember probably had those finely chopped vegetables but there were slices of celery too -- unmistakeably perfumey. But your sauce sounds great too! Thanks. (Also, can't use bacon....but smoky paprika helps.)
 
gregh1973 April 16, 2020
I dice it up as soon as I get it and vacuum pack it before freezing. I do the same with onions. When they thaw, they are just like fresh!
 
Christine S. April 16, 2020
As a child in England, where refrigerators were extremely small, my mum kept our celery in a beautiful, handblown celery vase. The leaves were left on and it looked beautiful sitting on the counter. The water was changed every day and it lasted for a few days. Of course, we never bought American quantities and we used all the parts. The leaves were dried once the stalks were finished and we would fight over who was going to gnaw on the very small heart that was left. I still have the vase and use it for the same purpose today.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 16, 2020
I love this so much, you make me want to find a celery vase!
 
Yirgach April 16, 2020
I just wrap the celery in a clean piece of dish cloth and store it in the fridge veggie bin.
Ditto for all stuff like that: fennel, broccoli, radishes, lettuce, etc.
So simple. Aluminum foil is best used for more intensive things.
You do need to wash/dry the dish cloth instead of just throwing the foil away...
 
nancy S. April 16, 2020
I have to add my support for this method of storage. I have been doing this for years and it does work brilliantly!
 
Margaret K. April 16, 2020
Take the full bunch out of the plastic bag and put it into a Tupperware celery box with the lid slightly cracked. Cut off the top half inch or so if it won't fit in the box, but be sure to leave some leaves. It will live and grow happily until you're ready to use it. Don't close the lid completely, or it will run out of air and go mushy.
 
Karen G. April 16, 2020
I learned this trick a few years back and it definitely works! I also learned another use for celery - I put a small piece, 4-5 inches long, in with my raspberries and/or blueberries and it keeps them fresh much longer. (Just to be clear, the berries are kept in the fridge.)
 
nancy S. April 16, 2020
Would be amazing if this works Karen. I'm going to give it a go.
 
Smaug April 14, 2020
Not so sure about ethylene gas concerns- its primary effects so far as I know are on the ripening of fruits- which celery is not- and triggering or speeding up of flowering cycles, which don't seem to be a concern with celery. Very useful for ripening apples and getting bromeliads to bloom. At any rate, I keep celery in a plastic bag and it keeps well enough to use it up while still in good condition.
 
TimothyJongHyun September 25, 2019
I rinse the celery off with cold water, then shake off a lot of the excess. Then I store it in a 2 gallon zip lock type bag standing straight up with a rubber band around the top of the outer bag if its too tall to seal right away, on the fridge door with about 2 tablespoons of water in the bag. Celery for me will last almost a month or more.
 
Lisa August 17, 2016
I have used this method for years and it works really well. Usually get 3-4 uses from one piece of foil.
 
Jan C. July 28, 2016
After a few weeks in the fridge and celery is starting to get limp, I make a big batch of sautéed celery, carrots and onions for soup and freeze it in zip lock bags. This extends the life and makes quick soup prep on busy days.
 
Smaug April 13, 2020
Limp celery can be perked up by standing it in a glass of water for a day or so.
 
judy March 11, 2016
I have been using Debbie Meyer Green Bags and Boxes for several years now. They do as advertised--keep my produce fresher longer. For some veggies a wrap in paper toweling before putting in the bag helps to absorb extra moisture. To save on paper towels I let them dry and reuse them if they are in good shape. As for the bags, if they get dirty I simply wash them by putting in a drop of dish soap and some water, swish around, rinse and leave to dry. Some of my bags are more than a year old. They also go to the grocery store with me. I put my produce in them directly. Then they ca go into the fridge, and I have not used produce bags from the store. Celery, and all the others keep longer. I can also delay ripening of fruit like tomatoes, avocados and bananas so that I can use them over a longer period of time, and have fewer trips to the store. The may be more expensive up front, but cheaper in the lang run. I use the large refrigerator boxes for big veggies like celery, carrots, peppers. I can mix them up, too as needed. Lettuces also store longer. Her white bread bags are also a good deal and do keep bread fresher longer. So that bread that you buy fresh-baked in a paper sleeve? Put it in a bread bag. Homemade bread? in a bread bag. Does an excellent job if wrapped double for freezing bread as well. So, I go through very little foil and no plastic wrap in my household. Another trick is vinyl bowl covers. The set I have now I have had for about 10 years. Almost time to replace as the elastic is wearing out. I get those at Vermont Country Store and have been considering that it is time for a new set. I use them for all kinds of things, like the pot of spaghetti sauce that I don't really want to put in a storage container at 11:00pm. Just pull a vinyl cover over and pop it in the fridge for tomorrow!
 
Rosalind P. April 16, 2020
Takes me years to go through a box of foil. Not that I don't use it, but judiciously and over and over again. It can be washed after many types of uses. Also use those old fashioned vinyl bowl covers ("grandma, why do you put shower caps on those bowls?"). Paper towel roll -- 3 months or more. Could probably use it even less. Washable rags, towels do that job. My point: no sacrifice here. It's low hanging fruit for reducing waste, carbon footprint, and costs. What's not to love? Nothing to brag about here; some stuff has to be learned and some stuff has to be unlearned. Advertising created the throw-away culture and once you know how to do it differently, it's easy.
 
mdelgatty May 11, 2020
LOL! Just yesterday I was wondering if I'm the only one left who uses 'shower caps' to cover containers. They're a bit of a pain to wash, but since they mainly contact the rims of things they really don't get very dirty. And since they come in sets of multi-sizes there's one for almost any kind of container. I use other containers too, but I hear you about the 11 pm spaghetti pot! I'm very abstemious in my use of non-renewable resources and virtually never use foil, and cling wrap only to wrap dough when I'm doing Christmas baking, which I re-use many times.
I did try wrapping celery in foil, and it didn't last noticeably longer than usual. Maybe I didn't do it right, or didn't have very good celery...