It is generally understood that when you need just a rib or two of celery, you must pay for an entire stalk, or “bunch” of it. What to do with the remaining ribs? Freeze ’em. You’ll be grateful to have the chopped, ready-to-use veggie on hand the next time you plan an aromatic soup, stew, pot pie, or étouffée for dinner. Here’s my method for blanching and freezing celery:
To keep me company in the kitchen, just watch the above video. You’ll find me blanching and freezing celery there. Then scroll down for the photographic how-to:
To start, cut off and discard (or compost) the stem end from the celery stalk. (Hat-tip to reader Carol, who reminded me that an entire celery plant is called a “stalk,” while the individual leafstalks are properly called “ribs.”)
Separate and rinse the ribs, and then cut them into the size and shape you desire. I typically cut my celery crosswise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch half-moons. (Hint: You can blanch and freeze the celery leaves along with the ribs).
To preserve color and also to kill off enzymes that can lead to deterioration, be sure to blanch the celery. To do this, tip the pieces into a large pot of rapidly boiling water.
When the water returns to a boil, set your timer for 3 minutes.
When the 3 minutes are up, immediately transfer the celery to an ice-water bath. Let the celery chill there for 3 minutes.
Now put the blanched pieces on a tea towel-lined baking sheet, and spread them out in a single layer. The towel will absorb excess moisture that would otherwise turn the celery into mush in the freezer.
Use a second towel (or the overhang of the lower towel if it is large) to blot moisture from the top of the vegetable. “Flash” freeze the celery on the baking sheet.
When solidly frozen, transfer the celery to suitable freezer containers. Blanched, frozen celery will keep for months.
And what a convenience! The next time you set about making this Tuscan Bean Soup or this hearty Chicken and Dumplings, you’ll be glad to know that your cleaned and cut-up celery is right there in the freezer, waiting for you!