Celery is an essential ingredient in French, Cajun, and vegetarian cooking. However, it's often sold in larger quantities than needed for a recipe. If you find yourself with leftover celery, you may wonder if it can be frozen to use later.
The answer is yes--with a little bit of preparation! Look below to find out how to freeze celery properly.
Should You Freeze Celery?
Is it Worth it?
Properly frozen celery can keep for up to a year in the freezer! From smoothies to stuffings, frozen celery is a perfect add-in for increased nutritional value and provides an aromatic kick.
If you take the time to blanch celery before freezing it, you will find that blanching preserves the color and flavor quite well for up to a whole year in the freezer. Should you choose to freeze unblanched celery, changes will be much more noticeable, and you’ll want to use it within two months; past that point, and the flavor and color will degrade to an unpalatable degree.
Whether it is blanched or not, all frozen celery will undergo texture changes to become much softer. Due to its high water content, freezing ruptures celery’s cell structure, so frozen celery will lose its crispness, snap, and crunch after time in the freezer.
How to Freeze Celery
It is best to first chop the celery into small pieces of the size that you are most likely to use. These could be one-inch pieces if you throw it into stock or smoothie, or quarter-inch pieces if you add celery to stews. While you are chopping, boil some water, then blanch the chopped celery by tossing it into boiling water for one to two minutes.
After no more than three minutes (you don’t want to cook the celery!), drain the pieces and plunge them immediately into ice water. Blanching will preserve its color and flavor by deactivating enzymes that age celery more quickly in the freezer. Drain and dry the celery bits, then lay them out on a flat surface such as a cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen, transfer the pieces to an airtight container or bag labeled with the date for easy storage.
If you fancy French or Cajun dishes, try investing a little extra preparation time and freezing small amounts of mirepoix. Mirepoix--a mixture of two parts onion, one part carrot, and one part celery--is the base of many dishes in traditional French cuisine.
To freeze a mirepoix, you should dice all the vegetables and then blanch them for a minute or two, as described above. Freeze the mixture in quantities that you might use in a recipe (typically about two cups). If you do more Cajun cooking, replace the carrot with green pepper, and follow the same instructions to prepare the “Holy Trinity.”
Recall that you could choose to freeze celery without blanching it first. In this case, simply chop fresh celery into pieces, then freeze them on a flat surface before transferring them to a labeled, airtight container. Expect a much shorter shelf life in this case, though, as well as a loss of color. The pieces will also begin to taste old more quickly, so use them as soon as you can, and discard unused portions after two months.
How to Thaw Celery
For any of the applications in which you might use frozen celery, there is no need to thaw it before using it. Simply add frozen pieces directly to smoothies, stocks, or a saute pan.
Uses for Frozen Celery
You can use frozen celery for any recipe that is blended (like a smoothie or juice) or cooked (like a casserole, stock, or gravy). Avoid using it for fresh dishes. In a salad, its damaged, softened texture will be noticeable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Freeze Chopped Celery?
Absolutely; it is best to chop it before freezing so that you use it directly without thawing first.
What Happens if You Don’t Blanch Celery Before Freezing?
Celery that has been frozen without first undergoing a blanching step will quickly lose color and flavor in the freezer. It will keep for only about two months (as opposed to blanched celery, which lasts up to a year).
Can You Freeze Fresh Celery?
Yes, although it will taste better and last longer if you blanch it before freezing.
Can You Freeze Celery Leaves?
You can freeze celery leaves in just the same way as celery stems. They also soften when frozen due to high water content, so don’t use frozen celery leaves for salads or other fresh applications.
Can You Freeze Celery for Soup?
Definitely! When you are ready to use it, you can add it directly to the soup without thawing it first.
Can You Freeze Celery Juice?
It is perfectly safe to freeze celery juice. Over several months, the vitamins in the celery juice will begin to degrade. However, frozen juice keeps much longer than fresh juice, so it is still undoubtedly worth making. For the highest nutritional value, consume the juice within six months.
Can You Freeze Celery for Smoothies?
Yes, you can freeze celery for smoothies. It is best to chop it into one-inch pieces before freezing so that you can add it directly to the blender. Make sure to blanch it to ensure maximum flavor and color preservation.
Blanched celery is safe and easy to freeze, and it will maintain excellent color and flavor for up to a year in the freezer. A handful of frozen celery can be a useful freezer resource for cooked dishes and sauces or to add a veggie kick to frozen smoothies!
If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to leave a note below.