How to Freeze Celery for Speedy Smoothies and Quick Soups and Stews
There's a handful of celery-focused dishes, including soups, salads and stir-fries, but most recipes require only a few stalks, which means you may have extra just waiting to be forgotten and eventually tossed. If you're tired of this seemingly inevitable waste of food and money, you are in luck, because celery can be frozen and then used to flavor soups, stews and stocks, as well as made into juices and smoothies. Read on for a step-by-step guide to freezing fresh celery—and make the most of it.
Wash and Chop First
It's best to wash celery before freezing, separating the stalks and giving them a good rinse. Next, trim and chop the celery, preferably into whatever size or shape makes sense for how you plan to use it. Celery that's been frozen isn't as crisp and easy to cut as fresh, so taking the time to chop it now will save you trouble later.
Pictured Recipe: Cream of Celery Soup
Blanch for Best Results
Celery can be frozen without first being blanched but this extra, easy step helps preserve the veggie's color, flavor and texture. Blanching also gives celery more staying power, so it can be frozen for up to a year—unblanched celery can only be frozen for up to two months. To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch celery in the boiling water for about 3 minutes, then plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking, drain and let dry completely. (Learn the best way to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables here.)
How to Freeze Celery
To keep the pieces from freezing together, spread celery on a baking sheet and freeze for a few hours, or until hard, then transfer to an airtight freezer bag, squeeze out the air, seal, label and freeze. This two-step freezing process makes it easy to pull out exactly the amount of celery you need, rather than defrosting a whole bag.
Pictured recipe: Jason Mraz's Avocado Green Smoothie
How to Thaw and Use Previously Frozen Celery
There's no need to thaw celery before using; simply add it whatever you're cooking straight from the freezer. Celery contains a lot of water, which is why it's so crisp and hydrating. Unfortunately, celery loses some of that crispness when frozen, which is why previously frozen celery is best used in soups, stews, stuffing and stock, where it contributes flavor more than texture. It also works in smoothies and juices. You may want to hold on the salads and crudités, where the crispness will be missed.