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If you purchased a head of celery for a soup recipe or a veggie tray, you’ll likely have some leftover celery to store in the refrigerator.  If so, you may be asking questions like, “what is the best way to store celery” and “how long does celery last in the fridge?”  These are very common questions, and you’re certainly not alone in asking them.  Continue reading to learn how to properly store celery to help it last as long as possible.

What is celery?

Celery is a member of the Apiaceae family (also known as the parsley family).  A stalk of celery is the name for multiple branches attached to one central heart, while a rib or branch refers to one individual piece of celery.  However, sometimes these words are used interchangeably, and the word stalk may be used when referring to a single rib.

The celery ribs, leaves, and seeds are all used for cooking.  Celery can be eaten raw or cooked.  Its raw form is often added to salads, served on a veggie tray with dips, added to tuna or chicken salad, or paired with peanut butter and raisins for the famous “ants on a log.”  

Cooked celery is found in many soups and stews.  It may also be added to stuffing, pasta, and rice.

Celery is a nutritious vegetable.  When paired with a healthy diet, celery can help lower blood pressure, act as an anti-inflammatory, reduce the occurrence of some cancers, and decrease one’s chances of developing liver disease.

Can you store celery in a plastic bag?

The biggest mistake most people make when storing celery is leaving it in the plastic bag it comes in.  While you may think this bag is designed for long term storage, it isn’t.  Leaving your celery in the plastic bag will make it go bad much more quickly.

Celery produces ethylene gas.  When you store your celery in the plastic bag it came in, the ethylene gas will become trapped inside the bag.  This will cause the celery to go bad more quickly than if the gas were able to escape.

While it may be tempting and easiest to just leave the celery in the plastic bag it came in and toss it in the fridge, this isn’t the best choice if you want to extend its life.

How should you store celery?

So, if storing celery in a plastic bag isn’t the best choice, how should you store it?  Using aluminum foil to store your celery is the best way to keep it fresh and prevent the ethylene gas from causing it to go bad too quickly.  Wrapping celery with aluminum foil can allow the ethylene gas to escape, preventing the celery from going bad too quickly.

If you want to store celery in aluminum foil, keep the celery stalk whole.  Then, take care to wrap the foil relatively tightly around the celery to keep the moisture in.  However, you don’t want to wrap it so tightly that you end up trapping the ethylene gas inside the foil.  Once wrapped, don’t tightly seal the edges of the foil.  Again, this is important for allowing the ethylene gas to escape and keep the celery as fresh as possible.

You can reuse the same piece of aluminum foil multiple times.  If you need to unwrap your celery to cut off a few ribs, simply re-wrap it with the same piece of foil to conserve resources.

Watch this short video to learn more about how to properly wrap celery in aluminum foil before storing it in the refrigerator.

How can you store cut celery?

You may also be wondering how long does cut celery last in the fridge and what the best way to keep cut celery fresh is.  When possible, you’ll want to keep the celery stalk whole for storage.  This will help it retain its moisture content and keep it fresher longer.

However, there may be times when you’re left with extra cut celery, need to prep a recipe or appetizer ahead of time, or just want some celery cut and ready for snacking.  In these cases, you should place the cut celery ribs in a large container.  

Add water to the container to completely cover the celery.  Then, cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap.  Once you’re ready to eat the celery, take it out of the container and rinse it with cold water.

If you’ll be storing your celery in the fridge for more than two days, change the water every other day.  

Cut celery should stay fresh for a few days in the fridge.  You can wrap it 

Freezing Celery

You can also consider freezing your celery to help it last even longer.  Both raw and blanched (cooked) celery can go in the freezer.  

To store raw celery in the freezer, cut it up and place it in an airtight container.  However, it is important to note that frozen raw celery doesn’t retain its quality for very long and can start to turn mushy before too long.  I’ll go into more detail about how long frozen raw celery keeps in a few minutes.

Frozen blanched celery won’t have the crunch of fresh celery, but it can be great to add to sauces, soups, and stews.  Follow these steps to blanch and freeze celery:

  1. Separate each celery rib and thoroughly rinse the ribs.
  2. Cut the ribs to the size you desire.
  3. Add celery pieces to boiling water and let them cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Drain the celery and place it in an ice bath for 3 minutes to cool it down and stop it from baking.
  5. Dry each piece of celery.
  6. Place the celery pieces on a baking tray.
  7. Place the uncovered baking tray in the freezer for about 1 ½ hours.
  8. Remove the celery from the freezer and place the pieces into freezer-safe bags.
  9. Remove all the air from each bag and make sure they are tightly sealed.
  10. Place the bags back into the freezer.  
how long does celery last in the fridge

How long does celery last in the fridge?

When properly stored, celery can last for up to four weeks in the fridge.  A few factors will impact how long your celery is likely to last.  First, a whole stalk of celery will last longer than cut celery.

The method you choose for storage will also impact how long the celery will stay fresh.  As I shared above, wrapping celery in aluminum foil is the storage method that will keep it fresh the longest.

So, if you’re asking “how long does whole celery last in the fridge,” and you wrap the stalk in aluminum foil, it should last for three to four weeks.

However, the answer to “how long does celery last in the fridge once cut,” will be different.  Cut celery pieces typically last for one to two weeks, while pre-packaged celery will likely only last for a few days.

How long does celery root last in the fridge?

If properly stored, celery root can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.  The best way to store celery root is to simply brush off any excess dirt, then place it in a plastic bag.  You may be wondering, “how long does peeled celery root last in the fridge,” but peeling or washing celery root before storage is not advisable.  Once peeled, the celery root will oxidize, meaning it will begin to turn brown and go bad more quickly.

How long does celery juice last in the fridge?

Another common question is “how long does fresh celery juice last in the fridge?”  Most freshly-made celery juice will last between one and three days in the refrigerator.  However, this is just an estimate and can vary based on how the juice is stored and if there are any other fruits or vegetables mixed in.

how long does celery juice last in the fridge

How long does celery last in the freezer?

Now that we know the answer to “how long does celery last in the fridge,” let’s discuss how long celery can last in the freezer.  As I shared above, you can freeze either cooked/blanched celery or raw celery.

Frozen raw celery won’t last very long.  After just a month or two in the freezer, it can start to go bad and may become mushy.  Frozen raw celery also doesn’t retain the texture or color of fresh celery and may have a different taste when thawed.

Frozen blanched celery can last much longer in the freezer.  It can last in the freezer for about a year.  Another benefit to freezing blanched celery is that it keeps its flavor much better than frozen raw celery.  However, be aware that frozen blanched celery will not have a crunch to it, so you’ll likely want to add it to soups, stews, or other dishes where you’re not looking for that crunch.

How can you tell when celery is bad?

Here are a few signs that will indicate your celery is bad and no longer safe to eat:

  • Foul odor
  • Slimy or mushy
  • Discolored (typically whitish)
  • Limp and easily bendable (If this is the only sign you notice, the celery is likely still safe to eat, though it won’t be as crunchy.  Cutting the ribs off and placing them in ice water can help them crisp back up.)

Storing Celery in the Fridge

Do you feel more confident about storing celery in the fridge now?  Remember, wrapping a whole celery stalk in aluminum foil is the best method to help it stay fresh for the longest amount of time.  Aluminum foil will help the celery retain its moisture while also ensuring the ethylene gas can escape.

FAQs

How do you know if celery has gone bad?

There are a few signs to look for that will let you know that your celery has gone bad.  Bad celery can have a foul odor or look whiter than fresh celery.  The stalks may also look like they are drooping, compared to the straight and crisp stalks of fresh celery.  If you see any slime on or around your celery, it is also an indication that it is no longer good.

Does celery go bad in the refrigerator?

Yes, celery will eventually go bad in the refrigerator.  The way it is stored will impact how long it will stay fresh.  Bagged celery will last considerably less time than celery that is wrapped in aluminum foil.

Can you get sick from old celery?

Yes, eating old celery can make you sick.  In some cases, eating old celery can result in food poisoning with vomiting, stomach aches, and/or diarrhea.

Is it OK to eat old celery?

You should not eat old celery if it is showing signs of being spoiled.  Slime, an unpleasant odor, and a whitened color are all indicators of spoiled celery.  However, if your celery is simply limp and doesn’t show any signs of being spoiled, it should be safe to eat.