Can you freeze celery? You may find yourself asking this question the next time you have celery leftover and no immediate use for it after making a big batch of soup.
You may know that celery is a key ingredient in many of the cozy recipes we all love to turn to during the chillier months, but many of us find that we just can’t use up an entire stalk of celery before it starts to get floppy and soft. So can you freeze celery? You absolutely can! This isn’t a vegetable that we often see in grocery store frozen food aisles, so you may not think it’s possible, but preserving by freezing celery is a great way to avoid food waste, maintain freshness, preserve vitamins and nutrient density, and ensure you always have it on hand for your favorite soups and stews or when you find a great new gourmet recipe in a cookbook.
What to Know Before Freezing Celery
This method for frozen celery will only really work well for you if you intend to cook the celery in a saucepan, skillet, or in the oven after freezing. If you’re hoping to have fresh, crunchy celery after defrosting, this probably won’t be the solution for you. Like many vegetables, especially those with a high water content, celery gets a bit mushy and loses its crunch when it thaws out after being frozen. That works out to be just fine if you’re planning on cooking with it anyway because celery does naturally soften when cooked.
If you’d like to keep your celery fresh and just refrigerate without freezing it, you definitely need to try my tinfoil celery preservation method. It might not last quite as long as when you freeze it, but it really does stay fresh for a surprisingly long time in the refrigerator that way.
Preparing to Freeze
First, a little essential terminology that you may not know: When you hear someone refer to a “stalk” of celery, that’s the entire bundle or bunch, like what you would harvest out of the garden or buy from the produce section of the grocery store. When someone is speaking about a “rib” of celery, that means the single pieces or stems out of the bundle. And now you know. On to the freezing process.
The key to successful freezing is to chop the celery stalk up beforehand to be exactly how you will want it to be chopped when you use it. Cutting and slicing celery after it’s frozen is possible but might get a bit messy with the thawing-out process underway. It can also be dangerous because the ribs will be slipping around on your cutting board as they melt. So rinse and chop prior to freezing and don’t forget to include the celery leaves as well. Smart cooks know there’s so much flavor in those leaves, so be sure you don’t waste them.
Generally, smaller sliced or diced pieces will always be better for future use in recipes for things like chilis and casseroles and will freeze quickly as well. If you are absolutely certain that you’ll be using the celery for something like a pureed soup or a vegetable puree, go ahead and leave your celery in bigger chunks to save time slicing and dicing. If you aren’t sure what you’ll want to the celery for in the future, finely chop the celery into small cubes, and then they’ll be ready to reheat whenever you want them. Feel free to peel the backs of your celery to remove the stringy bits if you like, but I don’t find it necessary.
How to Freeze Celery
When you’re finished dicing up all your pieces, prepare your freezer and as many baking sheets as you’ll need to spread the celery out in an even, single-height layer. Make sure that you have space in your freezer and a flat surface to rest the baking sheets on for several hours.
The nice thing about this type of food preservation with celery is that you don’t need to worry about boiling or blanching it before you freeze, so you don’t need to mess with a colander and ice bath at all.
Line your baking sheets with parchment or wax paper, then spread your celery pieces out evenly and blot them with paper-towel to remove excess surface moisture. You may need to do several batches, so any pieces that don’t fit on the cookie-sheet for the first batch should be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to work with them.
Place the baking sheets in your freezer and leave them to freeze for about four hours. When the time is up, transfer the frozen pieces to a freezer-safe airtight container or large ziploc freezer bags and place them back in the freezer to be kept frozen for long-term storage.
Repeat the above steps until all remaining celery bits have been frozen. When it comes time to cook a big, hearty meal, enjoy the convenience and efficiency of having at least one of your ingredients pre-chopped and ready to use! Simply toss and stir the frozen pieces into your recipe and they’ll thaw by steaming or as they simmer.
Ways to Use it
So what can you make now that you have the power of pre-chopped celery at your disposal without having to worry about spoilage? Once you quickly slice an onion, the options are pretty much limitless. I love to prepare frozen vegetables ahead to make Christmas or Thanksgiving meal preparation a little bit easier. Classic dishes like stuffing and roast meats often call for onion, celery, and sometimes carrots or tomatoes as well. I find almost all vegetables that I prepare myself and keep in the freezer to be much nicer than the ones I can find at the supermarket in most cases.
One of our favorite comfort food recipes for holiday dinners is my veggie pot pie, with its fun biscuit topping that you can cut out in cute shapes for whatever holiday you’re making it for. The hearty carrot, potato, and cauliflower vegetable mixture makes for a filling and wholesome vegetarian casserole and is a great way to use frozen prepared vegetables. I would maybe add squash and green beans, too, for an autumn holiday.
We also absolutely love this clear broth lentil barley stew with apples as well for a satisfying weeknight meal packed with veggies that always leaves us with lots of leftovers for lunch the next day. Bright-green cream of celery soup is another childhood favorite of mine that I love to make and have for lunches in the winter months.
So can you freeze celery? Yes. Yes, you can, and you should.
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.