How to store celery leaves for your consumption
Today, in North America, the type of celery most grown and eaten is called “pascal celery,” while in Europe “celeriac” celery is more popular. Celery is considered a long season crop and somewhat hard to grow, since it needs constant moisture and can’t withstand heat very well. It grows in cool, moist climates best and can be found most times of the year, especially during the fall through winter months.
Knowing that celery is one of the most chemical-sprayed vegetables there is, always look for organic celery whenever possible to get the most benefits of celery without consuming toxins and chemicals. The Environmental Working Group’s 2014 report shows that celery is usually sprayed with multiple types of pesticides and is on the list of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticide-residues.
When picking out celery, make sure the stalks seem firm and aren’t too limber. If the stalks have their leaves attached still, look for brightly colored leaves that are not wilting.
Don’t wash celery right away after bringing it home because this can cause it go bad quicker. Store dry celery, wrapped in a paper towel if you’d like, inside the refrigerator for about 5–7 days at the most. After this time, celery tends to get limp and its nutrient content starts to decrease. It’s also not recommended to freeze celery because it easily wilts and will become mushy once defrosting it.
To clean and cut celery, discard the base that’s usually firm and white. You can save the leaves and use these in recipes, such as soups or a sauté. Celery leaves are a good source of vitamins and minerals just like the stalks, so don’t waste them! Rinse the celery stalks and leaves well to remove any dirt of lingering pesticide spray and then cut the stalks into pieces.
Compared to boiling, roasting or blanching celery, steaming celery keeps more antioxidants intact. Celery’s compounds, including its flavonoids and polyphenols, are delicate nutrients that can be lost when you overcook celery. So it’s best to eat celery raw or to lightly cook it, such as steaming celery for a few minutes to soften it.
Not sure what to do with celery once you’ve bought some? Try adding some to a salad, tuna/salmon/egg salad, a big pot of soup, stir-fry, smoothie or juice, or just have some as a healthy, low-calorie snack. Many people like to eat celery raw with some nut butter and raisins as “ants on a log.”