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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Can I freeze celery?

Can celery be kept in the freezer and still be good for soups?

I very much like to use celery for soups but often am left going out to the store just for one dish. I don't really like celery otherwise. The unused portion sits in the refrigerator until it is fit to be tossed in the trash. Is there a good way to get around the problem of not having celery on hand when I need it and wasting much of what I buy? Will celery hold up well in the freezer? If so, how should it best be stored?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

celery topped with peanut butter

The answer to your question is no. Like many vegetables, celery is mostly water - in fact, about 95% water. As a result it does not freeze well.

When the celery freezes, the water contained inside the stalk also freezes, damaging the fibers. I knew this intuitively and it was something that I had always been told. I had not, however, actually tried to freeze celery, so I experimented. The results were a spongy pulp when the stalks were thawed.

Celery does make a great snack. It has almost no calories and a lot of fiber: a 3 1/2 ounce serving has all of 14 calories and about 1.5 grams of fiber. Some people like to add a teaspoon of peanut butter to a stalk of celery to add protein, and you may find you like the celery better that way. (Bear in mind that a teaspoon of full-fat peanut butter contains about 30 calories.) Or plan to make multiple batches of those soups that require celery and freeze the excess prepared soup for later. You'll save money, with less waste, and you'll always have a great meal on hand.

Here are a few soup recipes for you to try to use up your celery:

Potato and Leek Soup
Roasted Curried Cauliflower Soup
Tomato Basil Soup
Cannellini Bean Soup
Pasta Fagioli with Chicken
Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Bean with Bacon Soup

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet