Celery is one of those vegetables that you might not think to grow yourself. Yet, it’s quite easy to grow and can be used in almost any recipe. One thing you may wonder about is when it’s ready to harvest celery.
You can harvest celery at any time during its life cycle. If you want to eat the “heart” of the celery stalk, then you need to cut it at least one inch above the base of the plant when it is young and tender. If you want to harvest celery for growing more plants or for cooking, then you should wait until it has reached full size before harvesting so that you don’t get stringy stalks from cutting off too much stalk early on in its life cycle.
When Is The Best Month To Harvest Celery?
The best month to harvest celery is in June, when the plants are mature and provide plenty of stalks. The leaves are also edible and make a great addition to salads.
If you’re growing celery indoors, you’ll need to start seedlings early on so they can get at least six weeks of growth before being transplanted outdoors in May or June.
If you’re growing celery outdoors, you can start seeds in pots or flats indoors and transplant them into your garden around April or May.
Can You Harvest Celery Too Early?
If you harvest celery too early, it will be bitter and stringy. Celery that’s ready for harvest has good color and is firm.
Wait until the celery is about 6 inches tall before harvesting, though if you’re growing in pots or containers consider harvesting sooner so it doesn’t take up too much space.
How to Harvest Celery
Harvesting celery is a fairly simple process. The main thing to remember is that the stalks should be kept moist until they are ready for harvest. You can harvest celery as soon as it has grown to about 4 inches tall, but it will have more flavor if you wait until the plants are at least 6 inches tall.
Celery plants can be harvested by hand or with a knife, depending on how much of the plant you want to take at one time.
If you are harvesting by hand, simply snap off the stalks close to where they emerge from the soil. If you have enough room in your garden, leave them in place so they can continue to grow and produce more stalks. Otherwise, simply discard them in your compost pile or add them directly into your garden bed as mulch once they have been harvested.
If you plan on harvesting more than one stalk at once, cut off only one stalk per plant at a time with a sharp knife or shears rather than pulling up several stalks at once and damaging their roots.
Storing Celery After Harvesting
After the celery is harvested, it’s important that you know how to store them properly. If stored properly, it will keep the celery fresh until you’re ready to use them. Store celery using the following methods:
Storing Celery in the Refrigerator
You can store fresh celery for several weeks when properly stored in the fridge. Celery should be refrigerated in plastic bags or containers to keep it from drying out. Celery should not be stored near apples or tomatoes because the ethylene gas emitted by these fruits can cause spoilage.
To store celery properly, wash it thoroughly before storing it. Cut off the leaves and store them separately from the stalks in a plastic bag or container. You can also chop the stalks into small pieces so they will fit better in your fridge.
Celery will stay fresh for several weeks if placed in a plastic container or bag with a few inches of water on top of its leaves as well as wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.
The best place to store celery is on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator near the back where temperatures are cooler than at eye level closer to the front door where temperatures are warmer due to more frequent opening and closing of doors by family members getting into and out of their refrigerators for food items needed for meals throughout the day.
Storing Celery in the Freezer
Celery can be frozen for up to a year. It will lose some of its crispness, but it is still usable in soups, stews and other recipes. To freeze celery, cut off the leaves and blanch them for 2 minutes. Cool quickly in ice water and dry. Store in an airtight container.
If you’re using this celery in a soup or stew, you can add it directly from the freezer without blanching it first; just make sure to use it within one week of thawing.
Storing Celery By Drying It
Dried celery is great for soups, stews, and sauces.
To dry celery:
Step 1: Cut the stalks into 2-inch pieces and remove any outer leaves.
Step 2: Wash the stalks well, then pat them dry with a clean towel or paper towel.
Step 3: Lay them in a single layer on drying trays and place them in a food dehydrator set at 145 degrees F for 8 to 10 hours or until crispy. You can also place them in your oven on low heat (170 degrees F) for about 10 hours until they are crispy.
Step 4: Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.
It’s always best to harvest celery when the leaf tips are beginning to turn yellow. This is usually around the end of July or early August, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t get too hot before harvesting because then it will begin losing its flavor. If your plant gets too tall then you should cut off the top third of it so that more energy can go towards developing roots underground and not just growing leaves above ground level!