Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quick Tip - Celery

If you enjoy making soups, stews and other savory dishes, you probably see celery on your list of ingredients. Typically, you only need a stalk or two at the most. It's tempting to skip it, or try to substitute ground celery seed or freeze-dried stalks. I like those options, but sometimes I splurge and buy it fresh. What do you do with the rest?

What I used to do was first pretend like I was going to eat it raw, and then ignore it until it started to go limp and stink up the refrigerator. Now, I wash, chop, blanch (which means plunge into boiling water) for three minutes, dunk into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and freeze. It's quick (15-20 minutes of work, tops) and completely worth it. I've noted no flavor loss in my recipes, and while a lot of the extension services recommend freezing it in half-cup portions, I just spread the blanched pieces onto a wax-paper lined cookie sheet for 12-24 hours and put it them into a freezer bag the next day. It's easy to break off the amount I need, and saves time, money, and having to hold my breath as I clean the crisper drawer.

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