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Introduction on how to freeze celery
How to freeze celery for a long time storage?
You might ask yourself the question:” Are there different ways to freeze vegetables?”. Well, yes and no. The freezing part will always be the same, except when you freeze at different temperatures. But there is something you can do to keep your celery for a longer period in the freezer without the celery discoloring or turning bad.
It’s possible to just wash and freeze your celery and put it in the freezer. The celery will keep for about 2 to 3 months. After this period the celery will turn into a weird yellowish kind of green and the plant is literally decomposing in the freezer. This happens when the enzymes that ripen and thus deteriorate the vegetable are still alive and active in the plant.
To kill off the enzymes that destroy the plant and the potential pathogens on the plant, we need to boil the celery for a certain amount of time. Than we have to cool it again.
In this article, I will show you the steps I take to cut, clean, boil and freeze the celery so I can keep it not for 3 months but for up to 2 years.
Cutting the celery in how to freeze celery
So, first things first. It’s time to cut and sort the celery. The first thing you should do is making sure all the bad parts and brown parts are gone. If you see some insect has nibbled on a leaf it has to go. While talking about this first step, I should mention I always use the leaves as well as the stalks. Some people tend to get rid of the leaves but leaves are as good as the stalks. I’ll explain later in this article why.
Cleaning the celery in how to freeze celery
Cleaning the celery is quite obvious but I take some extra steps to be sure there are no little critters sticking to the leaves and stalks of the plants I clean.
First of all, I wash and clean off the debris and the soil that can get stuck on the bottom of the stalks. I wash the cut pieces 2 times in a row and let them drain out for a couple of seconds.
A pot gets filled with water and I add a good amount of salt to it. I pour in the celery pieces and let them sit for about 10 minutes. This way I’m sure that any remaining critters will release from the plant.
If my wife should find just a tiny aphid in her food, she’d be yelling all over the street. Did I mention she really hates bugs?
Anyhow, after the salt treatment, I rinse the celery to make sure there’s no salt remaining.
Boiling the celery
In the meanwhile, I put up another pot filled with water. I made sure the celery fits in the pot and can be totally submerged.The water already has to be boiling before I put in the celery. I do this, to make sure, everything is as hot as possible. Then I wait until the water starts to boil again with the celery in it. As soon as the water starts to boil, I count for 3 minutes. That’s the time the celery needs to blanch. If you boil it for longer, the celery will soften too fast and lose a lot of nutrients to the water.
So, blanching is nothing more than boiling the celery for the minimum amount of time needed to make sure the enzymes we talked about are being killed off. For celery, this takes 3 minutes. For other vegetables, there are other periods calculated.
Experts found out that you need 1 gallon of water for each pound of vegetables. That makes for 4 liters of water for every half kilogram of vegetables.
Don’t take this lightly as these boiling periods have been calculated by experts. Not taking proper care of hygiene and cooking periods can result in quality loss, less taste and even food poisoning.
Cooling the celery
Although for celery, this is not as necessary as it is for other vegetables, I will explain why I do what I do.
Cooling down the celery as fast as possible is another step to the blanching process. Some people use ice to make sure the cooking process stops as soon as they take the celery of the fire.
For celery, this step is not really necessary because celery cut into small pieces will cool down quickly under streaming water. The cooling process should be as fast as the cooking process. Experts suggest using 1 pound of ice for each pound of vegetables. with the small celery parts, the cooling process is done nicely by using tap water. So, you have to get the temperature of the celery parts back under 60°F or 15.5°C in 3 minutes.
There is one thing I should mention. Using ice water will keep the nutrition value higher than using tap water because with tap water you really wash away nutrients but this doesn’t change that much in the quality of the frozen celery.
Draining the celery
You should be draining the celery after the cooling period. Make sure there’s not too much water left as this will result in lower quality as well.
So there seems to be a lot more to freezing vegetables than chopping, cleaning and putting in the freezer. The explanation I gave you, is not my invention by any means. The blanching process has been studied for a long period and perfected with scientific proof and lab testing so rest assured, this is no trend.
One more point, why do I use the leaves as well as the stalks? The stalks of the celery will become really soft when freezing. That’s one of the reasons I cut it into pieces. So it makes no difference if I use stalks or leaves. Because I only use frozen celery to make soups or stews, I can use the leaves as well as the stalks so I have more food in the kitchen from the same plant. And yes, I know, sometimes I’m too frugal.
If you want to get all the info you need to grow celery, click on this link.
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