We all know celery as that nutritious crunchy green vegetable with the long stalk that often accompanies chicken wings. It’s the popular low-calorie snack that we love to dip in peanut butter, Ranch, or Bleu cheese dressing.
Sometimes, though, with all the other excellent food we’ve got in the pantry, we take celery for granted. We keep it stored for several weeks or even months, assuming it will keep fresh as long as it’s in the fridge. But how long does it really last?
In this article, I’ll let you in on all things celery – how long it lasts, how to check if it’s gone bad, and how to make it last longer so that none of it goes to waste.
How Long Does Celery Last?
When raw, celery will keep fresh in the fridge for 3-4 weeks upon purchase date. Cooked celery will only last for 7 days in the fridge. Last, prepackaged celery, those that come in small tubs from the grocery, will only survive for 2-3 days.
This means that if you want the longest-lasting celery, buy the whole head of celery. Also, pick the organic kind because regular celery normally has higher pesticide content.
But, while these guidelines hold true in most cases, take note that not all celery is the same. If you notice something different with your celery even before it’s supposed expiration day is up, don’t eat it. Always practice responsible eating!
How do you know if celery has gone bad?
You’ll know your celery is no longer fresh when it becomes soft and limp. The stalks will also start to spread out from the bunch. And when you break into them, they won’t have that signature crunch any longer.
They become more bendy and droopy than firm and crunchy. They won’t have that vibrant green hue anymore, either. Instead they’ll look pale (or sometimes, darker) and their center becomes hollow.
You’ll also notice some browning in the leaves. Apart from the appearance, rotten celery will also emit a foul smell. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to throw it out.
How to Make Celery Last Longer
The best way to keep celery fresh longer is to store it in a well-hydrated and aerated place. When you store celery in a dry area, it releases ethylene, which causes it to dehydrate and go bad. With that said, here are some effective ways to store your celery:
1. One of the easiest ways to keep celery fresh is to simply wrap it in aluminum foil. Easy peasy. No need to wrap each individual piece. You simply wrap the entire bunch.
The foil allows ethylene to escape. If you keep your celery in the original bag, you might notice it getting limp in a few days. This is because the ethylene is trapped.
The foil allows the ethylene to escape, and can keep your celery crisp and fresh for at least a month.
2. Place the celery in produce keepers. These are specialized containers with a grid insert that sits right above the bottom of the box. You then pour a bit of water at the bottom and place the celery on top of the grid insert. Cover it with a lid and store in the fridge.
Curious how it works? Produce keepers have a carbon filter that traps and absorbs ethylene gas, which slows down the aging process and keeps your produce fresh for longer periods of time.
Can also be used for spinach, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers and other veggies, fruits, and leafy greens.
3. If your celery has already been cut, you can submerge them in water.
Once your celery is cut, the stalks lose moisture much faster. To prolong their freshness, place them in a container and cover in water. Seal the container tightly. This will keep your celery crisp, crunchy, and hydrated.
How to Revive Limp Celery
But, in the unfortunate event that your celery still goes limp despite these efforts, there are still several ways to save them. Here are a few options:
- Wash the vegetable, slice them, and dip the stalks in ice water and refrigerate. In a few hours, expect the limp veggies to have crisped up. This is because they absorb some of the water. This little trick will extend your celery’s life for 2-3 more days. Just be sure to keep it in the fridge.
- Use it as a vegetable broth instead. You don’t need it to be nice and crisp to give off it’s wonderful flavor.
- Place it in a blender and turn it into a juice or smoothie! It may no longer be crisp, but it’s still nutritious and delicious.
- Slice them up and freeze for future use. Blanch the celery and store in a freezer-safe container. It will survive for as long as 8 months in the freezer. Defrosted celery won’t be crisp anymore, though. No worries, because you can still use your tender celery as an ingredient for roux, soup, or stir-fry.