First, I separated all the ribs on all the stalks of celery. This was probably the most tedious part. :) The hearts, or middles, of the celery I kept intact, since I wanted to keep the really small stalks as well as the leaves.
Then I washed all the ribs, cut off any brown-looking tops, and started chopping away. I love chopping with my chef's knife!
I placed the chopped pieces of celery into a vegetable serving bowl. Then I blanched it.
Blanching celery. Bring a pot of water to a boil. I use my six-quart pot, since it has a steamer basket into which I can place the celery. I put about an inch or two worth of chopped celery into the steamer basket, and when the pot of water is boiling, I remove the lid, and place the steamer basket of celery into the pot. To blanch, I set the timer for three minutes.
Why I blanch:
Blanching stops the action of enzymes, which naturally occur in vegetables and help the them grow and ripen. The enzymes continue to act after harvest and will cause color, flavor, texture, and nutrient losses. Freezing slows down the action of enzymes, but it does not stop them.
At the end of the blanching time, I lift the steamer basket of celery out of the pot, and carefully pour the blanched celery into a large bowl filled with very cold water (you can put ice in the water). I let that sit for five minutes; this halts the cooking process. Then I drain the celery and spread it out on drying towels to wick away excess moisture.
Then, I simply measure the celery into freezer bags. Today I used quart-sized bags, and measured two cups of celery into each bag.
I get each bag as flat as possible, then seal the bag all the way. Then, I open the seal in the middle somewhere, insert a straw, and suck out as much air as I can. Once I've got it as airtight as I can, I remove the straw and quickly seal the bag fully. I like to pull the straw out with my lips/teeth and seal really quickly; it's kind of a game with me. :)
Removing the extra air will help the celery store for longer periods in the freezer. It helps prevent freezer burn.
I'll use this celery in soups and stews and other dishes throughout the rest of summer and into the autumn and winter, if it lasts that long! That's seven bags, two cups each, that you see above!!
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