I will do a cleansing diet next week. It involves eating fresh produce and vegetable soup. The soup recipe calls for onions, tomatoes, and celery. While I can buy onions and tomatoes per piece, the supermarket sells celery in heads. I just need 4 to 5 stalks. I wonder if there is a way to keep the unused celery in the freezer so I can use in on other dishes in the upcoming weeks, instead of letting it go to waste.
Celery is really a popular diet food and ingredient. This vegetable is low in calories. It has high water content, and is also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. As an aromatic, it adds flavor, fragrance, and depth to food.
Freezing celery, when blanched, can preserve its color, taste, and most of its nutrients. You can also freeze it raw, though this shortens the shelf life and can make the stalks taste bland. Whether blanched or raw though, freezing makes the celery lose its crispiness and turn limp and mushy.
Can You Freeze Celery?
Celery is 95% water. As with other fruits and vegetables with high water content, celery becomes mushy when frozen and thawed.
Because of this, defrosted celery is not good to use as garnish or relish, or as an ingredient for stir-fry and grilled dishes. Use it instead in soups, sauces, casseroles, smoothies, and other dishes that do not require some crispiness on the part of the celery.
You can freeze blanched or raw celeries. Blanching celery kills bacteria, helps preserve and lock in flavor, and lengthens the storage life.
The only downside to blanching is that this process makes the celery lose about a third of antioxidants and water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A and C. Fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber are not affected by the freezing process. It may seem tricky because there is a trade-off between flavor and shelf life on one hand, and nutrient on the other hand. In the end, it is up to you.
You can keep raw celery in the freezer for 2 months, while frozen blanched celery can last for 12 to 18 months. You can put frozen celery directly in the hot dish or smoothie. No need to thaw.
There are also other ways of preserving celery. You can wrap celery in paper towels or in foil, and store inside the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 weeks. You can even freeze celery in oil in ice trays, along with other herbs and aromatics. Or, if you have a green thumb, you can opt to replant the root end of the celery. As for the celery leaves, you can freeze it along with the stalks. You can also freeze it in oil or turn it into a celery pesto.
How to Freeze Celery?
Freezing celery is quite easy when you follow the steps and tips.
- Choose stalks.
- Choose only the crisp and tender stalks.
- Remove discolored stalks and those with coarse strings.
- Wash thoroughly.
- Remove any dirt, including those in between stalks.
- You can also scrub lightly.
- Trim, cut, or chop it into 1-inch pieces as frozen celery is difficult to slice.
- Blanch the celery.
- Boil water. General rule is 4 liters of water per 500 grams celery.
- Put the celery in the hot water for 3 minutes.
- Remove from boiling water and chill in a bowl of ice water.
- You can also run under cold tap water.
- The important thing is to do this immediately to stop the cooking process.
- Drain and pat dry before putting inside the freezer.
- Excess moisture can ruin celery when you freeze it.
- Optional: Flash freeze if you do not like the pieces to stick together.
- Spread the pieces in a baking pan, parchment paper, or plate.
- Put it in the freezer for a few hours.
- Once the pieces are firm, transfer to a sealed container.
- Pack it in sealed, air-tight package with no headspace.
- Label with the date when you froze it.
You can use frozen celery to replace fresh celery in your usual vegetable soup. Boil frozen celery in water with chopped garlic, onions, carrots, and broccoli. Then, blend it to get a hearty nutritious soup. You can also use vegetable stock or chicken stock.
Frozen celery can also be used in casseroles. Fry beef with the celery along with white onion and green pepper. Jazz it up with tomato sauce before mixing with rice, and finally baking it in the oven.
For a healthy smoothie, you can blend frozen celery with apple, cucumber, water, agave, and apple cider vinegar. You can also use coconut water and honey.