This year’s celery harvest was a success! After a few light frost alerts and before our first hard freeze, I pulled up all of the remaining plants. The trick now is to use or preserve them all. (Note to self: start using more celery earlier in the season.) I prepped and stored a lot of it in our basement fridge. Then I began cooking with it and dehydrating some to use later.
I highly recommend growing your own celery, if possible, because its flavor—like that of tomatoes—is so much better than the store-bought kind. One first time grower said this: “Stalks were small, but the flavor was so full and multifaceted compared to store-bought celery that it was totally worth growing anyway. It smelled amazing, too.”
Another reason to grow your own celery is that conventionally grown celery is relatively high in pesticide residues, even after it has been washed. It is usually on the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list. So if I have to buy it, I prefer to get organic celery, which costs more. Thus, growing my own celery saves me money. Growing celery increases my salary!
Increase in Celery = Increase in SalaryThe Gardener Wife
Celery Storage Tips
Whether you grow your own celery or not, these tips should be helpful to you.
- For quick use: Wash, cut up, and store celery in refrigerator boxes designed for fresh produce. Mine are made by Tupperware, but you can find similar ones for less.
- For short term storage: Wrap the entire head of celery tightly in aluminum foil. I cut off most of the leaves from my larger plants, if necessary, to make them easier to store, but you don’t have to. You can cut any yellowed leaves away later when you use the celery. Foil wrapped celery, stored in a refrigerator, will last for several weeks—or even longer as I’ve shown in this video.
- For long term freezer storage: Wash and slice the celery. Measure it out into one-cup or half-cup portions, and put into small plastic bags. I use fold-over sandwich bags. Put these bags, loosely twisted shut, into a large vacuum sealer bag and vacuum seal them. Store in the freezer. You can toss the frozen celery directly into soups, stews, and slow cooker recipes, or you could thaw it a bit for use in any hot dishes.
- For long-term pantry storage: use a dehydrator to dry the celery. You can also dehydrate celery leaves to make celery flakes. Wash and cut the celery to the size you want. Blanch it, if desired. Dry it with paper towels, and then spread it out on dehydrator trays. Follow your dehydrator’s directions to dry the celery. When it’s done, I use an accessory jar lid kit with my FoodSaver to store my dehydrated celery in vacuum sealed canning jars. To use the dehydrated celery later, you could reconstitute it or drop it, as is, into soups or other recipes which have liquid ingredients to plump it up. You can also grind dried celery into a powder or use the crushed flakes as a seasoning.
I used the freezer method in previous years, but this year I decided to try dehydration because I am pressed for freezer space and I heard it produces better results. It seems counter intuitive, but I’ve also learned that blanching actually helps vegetables to dry faster. University extension service guidelines recommend blanching celery to preserve its color, protect its vitamins, and destroy any harmful bacteria that could be present. On my first time dehydrating celery, I was in a hurry and I did not check these guidelines, so I skipped the blanching. My dried celery looks green enough, and I am happy with the results. If I decide to dehydrate more of my celery, I will try blanching it and then compare the results. Blanching is also recommended for freezing celery so it will hold up longer in the freezer, but I think that vacuum sealing mine works just as well.
While I like to have a good supply of homegrown organic celery stored in the freezer or pantry for the winter, its texture is never going to be nice and crunchy again. That’s why my goal is to use as much of this harvest as I can now, while it’s fresh. I’ve been making lots of potato salad and Waldorf salad lately. We’ve also been munching on celery sticks as snacks—delicious with or without a dip. If we were still eating sandwiches for lunch, I’d make tuna salad sandwiches, too. I might make a stir fry tonight, and next week I’ll make tuna pasta salad. I should also make stock or soups to eat now or freeze for later. And of course I’ll be using homegrown celery in our turkey stuffing. I can also use the bunching onions and leeks that I’ve recently harvested in many of these recipes. Eating from the garden is one of the best parts of growing your own food.
Do you have any other ideas to share with me? What are your favorite dishes that have celery in them?
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