How to Blanch Celery Like a Pro (Beginner’s Guide)

So, you want to blanch your celery in your garden.

You’ve probably heard that this makes it less bitter. And probably even a lot more tender.

They’re both true. But blanching does also have some drawbacks.

Did you know the process of blanching makes it less nutritious? Or how about even less green?

How to blanch celery in your garden.

You’ll learn everything you need to know about blanching in this guide (if you decide to go for it).

We’ll talk about the exact steps, how blanching works, and whether or not it’s right for you.

Sound good? Let’s get blanching (or not).

What exactly is blanching in gardening?

Blanching literally means “to white[n]” in French.

It’s nothing new and has been around since the early 1400s, so don’t think of it as some trendy new age thing that’s trending in the health department.

It’s an old practice and it works.

Blanching works on its own. Let that sink it.

Veggies like cauliflower, cabbage, and celery will automatically blanch on their own over time.

When you look at a plant that has multiple layers, you’ll see that the innermost layers are white or yellow while the outermost layer is green.

This is because the sun’s UV light can hit the outer layers and the plant undergoes photosynthesis.

But the innermost foliage is protected by the outer layers, so it stays out of sunlight and doesn’t photosynthesize. Therefore, it stays whiter which results in tender, sweeter celery.

Blanching is simply reducing the overall exposure to sunlight and keeping it as white as possible.

Blanched celery stalks are very pale and don’t have that green veggie look at all.

Plus, the flavor and texture are completely different, especially for stronger tasting veggies with that green flavor. Like celery. So you get the most flavor from your veggie.

Why wouldn’t you want that?

What does blanching do to vegetables?

Blanching helps cook the celery while preserving the flavor and texture.

Anyone who’s tossed some veggies into the pot knows that the flavor disappears and becomes extremely bland. Blanching helps cook the vegetable while keeping the crisp flavor and texture so it still stays good.

Although cooking it straight may help reduce the overall bitterness of the veggie, it also extracts the nutrients by denaturing it and reduces the overall “green” taste of vegetables as a whole.

Do you have to blanch celery?

Blanched celery given to a bull.
Everyone likes blanched celery. So give it a try.

Blanching celery will help cook your celery while preserving the texture and flavor.

You don’t have to blanch it as you can just cook it in your favorite dish (or eat it raw).

But if you want it cooked to kill any pathogens and want to keep it flavorful, blanching is a good idea. You can blanch it and then use it on a stew, soup, or salad.

When you blanch celery to prep it, you can benefit from all the natural flavors stemming from the plant. It also helps other veggies like asparagus, cauliflower, and rhubarb.

If you’ve never blanched celery before, you’re missing out.

Once you try it (and see how easy it is), you’ll realize how much you missed.

What happens if you don’t blanch celery?

If you don’t blanch it, nothing will happen. You’ll continue to harvest it around the 140-day mark and it’ll likely be more bitter than compared to if you were to blanch it.

Blanched celery is less nutritious, less green, and less flavorful compared to ripened celery.

But the tradeoff is that the crop is easy to chew and much less bitter.

Blanching isn’t necessary and only those who want sweeter celery should do it. Otherwise, it’s pretty pointless.

How to blanch celery

Blanched celery has whiter stalks than unbalanced celery.
Blanched celery has whiter stalks because of partial sunlight. This makes it sweeter and softer.

It’s really hard to mess up. Here are the steps on blanching.

Feel free to customize it to your liking and how you eat it.

First, you’ll need the proper foundation before you even consider blanching. Celery is an easy to grow crop and you’ll need to give them plenty of space to grow.

Space them at least 6” apart and provide them with proper soil, sun, and water. Plat food also helps.

Thin them as needed, and do basic celery care. The trick here is to simply give them ample space so they can grow properly. That’s all you need to do differently for blanching.

The next step is to know the timing of when to cut them.

When to blanch celery

Celery is best harvested about 3 weeks away from ripening. That’s right.

You harvest BEFORE it becomes ready. This is the first step to blanching correctly.

With a reliable and predictable harvest cycle of about 140 days, you can predict when your celery will be about ready. This is why it’s important to use gardening stakes as they can be marked the exact plant date.

You can also use a reminder on your phone or calendar. If you harvest too late, it’s no longer necessary to blanch. You need to harvest early if you want to do it right.

Celery is best harvested about 3 weeks away from ripening. That’s right. You harvest BEFORE it becomes ready. This is the first step to blanching correctly. With a reliable and predictable harvest cycle of about 140 days, you can predict when your celery will be about ready. This is why it’s important to use gardening stakes as they can be marked the exact plant date. You can also use a reminder on your phone or calendar. If you harvest too late, it’s no longer necessary to blanch. You need to harvest early if you want to do it right.

Depending on the flavor you’re looking for, the harvest time will significantly alter it.

  • If you want sweet celery, harvest it farther from the ripening date. Cutting it about 3 weeks before will give you crisp, sweet celery with a tender texture.
  • If you want a bitter flavor with a tougher texture, harvest it about 2 weeks before.
  • Or if you want to consume celery JUST for the abundant nutrients, wait for it to turn dark green. The color of the celery stalk tells a lot about the nutrient density.

Note that celery is NOT always a cooperative crop for beginners. If you struggle with growing it in the first place, blanching will only make the process more difficult.

Even with perfect timing, you still may end up getting some bitter celery when you harvest it.

A lot of gardeners will still be unhappy with their extremely bitter and tough celery upon harvest. This is very common and hard to get it right.

So don’t feel bad if you blanch and it’s still not as sweet as you like.

Pruning and harvesting

Freshly trimmed blanched celery.
Pruning at the right time keeps it tidy, clean, and gives it space to grow.

Grab your favorite pair of pruners or garden shears.

Wash them with some hot water or rubbing alcohol to sterilize them. Start thinning your celery.

Cut out any damaged, eaten, or foliage that just doesn’t look edible. Yellow celery should be trimmed and disposed of.

Damaged or broken stalks should also be harvested and tossed out. You can feed them to livestock or use them as compost.

The point is to clean up the area around each celery stalk because we need to roll up each stalk with blanching rolls. This is why it’s important to space them properly when you first planted them.

Does it make sense now?

Wrap them up

This is where the fun begins. You can choose to do it the cheap and easy way.

Or you can use some more “more fun” techniques that are sure to give you a good time. Let’s start with the traditional method- newspaper!

Newspaper blanching

This involves single rolls of newspaper and some tape or garden twine. Wrap each stalk of celery with a single piece of newspaper.

You can fold or trim it down to size if it’s too big. Tie the stalks together with some twine, string, or rubber band. Then when it’s all neat and bunched up, wrap it with newspaper.

It should fit loosely under the green celery leaves and around the stalk only. The tip of the newspaper roll should be touching the leaves and propping them up. You can tape it in place if it’s too loose. That’s it.

The newspaper acts as a shield to protect the celery from sunlight, which forces it to stop photosynthesize. The leaves will start to turn white and pale over time. This is exactly what it’s supposed to do.

You should still water as normal. You can point the nozzle of the hose or use a watering can and aim it into the center so the newspaper doesn’t get soaked.

If you water the paper, it’ll get torn and let the sun in, which defeats the purpose of this. Try not to get it wet or replace it if you do.

Keep the newspaper wrapped around your celery until the harvest date. If you started 3 weeks out, then keep it there for 3 weeks until it’s ready.

Remember, it depends on when it’s supposedly ripe for the flavor difference. If you do it too late or too early, you’ll end up with overly bitter or overly sweet celery with some weird textures. But hey, that’s part of the fun.

For rain or wind, this will require you to get creative. If it rains, cover the entire set with something or replace the newspaper if you have nothing.

Wind can be handled by using more tape or twine around each stalk. This should keep the entire thing stable.

The process of blanching is supposed to give them a sweeter taste and tender texture. But it’s hard to time it right all the time.


Similar to newspapers, you can use cardboard as a wrapping medium.

This is much more sturdy compared to newspapers and will tolerate rain and wind. You can fold the cardboard into a square and tape it around each stalk.

Remember, keep it snug, but not overly tight. The point is to block the sunlight from reaching the plant stalk.

That’s it. If you accomplish this, you’re doing it right.

Aluminum foil

This is often recommended because it’s easy to shape and you can wrap it directly around the celery stalk without using any twine or tape.

The drawback of this method is that it gets hot. If you don’t live in a hot area, this works wonderfully.

It’s easier and stands up to rain, wind, and other climate conditions without needing to bug you and waste your precious time. If replacing newspapers over and over doesn’t sound appealing to you, then yeah, go for aluminum.

Half gallon cartons

Milk carton for celery blanching.
These cartons can be used to protect your celery from sunlight.

You know those half-gallon milk cartons you keep throwing out?

You can use them to hold your plants up and blanch them at the same time!

Cut off the bottom quarter and the top half down to the size of your celery stalks.

Then just place the square-shaped container around your celery. It shields them from the sun, is waterproof, and won’t go anywhere even in heavy rains or winds.

Now that’s upcycling. Just be sure to wash the interior before you use it as spoiled OJ or milk can’t be good for your plants.

Oh, and when you slip it over the stalks, make sure the carton doesn’t cover any of the leaves. It should only cover the stalks below the leaves.

You can trim them to size and reuse them also. So it’s really getting the most out of something most people toss in the trash.

Bag and pantyhose

Another cheap way to blanch lots of celery at the same time.

Get some of those regular brown sandwich bags and some old pantyhose. You can buy both for cheap at your local dollar store.

Tie the bags with the pantyhose (cut the bottoms of the bag out) around the stalk of the celery plant. The bags are resistant to wind, but not rain.

Celery trenching

You can dig out trenches in your soil to keep the sunlight out of the lower half of your celery. The trenches should block any incoming sunlight to the stalks.

You leave the foliage exposed to the sun, but keep the stalks protected by the trenches.

This is slightly more difficult because you’ll need to know the sun’s position and how much to dig, but it allows for a material-free method that’s both wind and rain-proof blanching.

You fill the trench with soil gradually rather than at all at once so you know exactly where the sunlight is hitting the celery.

Wood chips

This is pretty interesting and one of the newer techniques I’ve come across in some garden forums I browse often. It’s where you fill up the space around the stalk up to the leaves.

The point of it is that you use the wood chips to cover the stalk and block out any sunlight from reaching them.

If you have a garden that’s prone to pests, you may want to avoid this method.

You need to also add water to the stalks by aiming to the center of the stalk so the water trickles down.

Be sure to check now and then for fungal or pest activity in the chips. This method requires a lot of work, but it works.

Dried leaves

Dried leaves are perfect for mulching substrate.
Use leaves as a mulching substrate.

Similar to using wood chips, you can also use dried leaves as a mulching substrate to block the stalk and blanch your celery. I don’t like this method because the wind will blow it away easily.

But if you have no wind and you don’t want to spend money on materials, then use dried leaves only if you’re somewhere with no windy conditions. Or else you’ll wake up to a bare naked stem photosynthesizing all day.

The same method as prior- keep it dry and check for pests.


Straw mulch is an excellent substrate to use for celery blanching.

The straw stays soaked so they stay in place. This also makes them resistant to wind, which is awesome for those in some windy areas.

Straw mulch can also be found in organic varieties, so if you’re growing organic celery and you want to blanch it, organic mulch can be easily purchased.

Some straw alternatives are bark and hay.

Use in a similar fashion and always examine your substrate for pest problems. This will help your celery stay safe.

Harvesting your blanched celery

After the set time has passed, you’re finally ready to reap the fruits of your labor.

Unwrap the material you used and carefully prune the celery for harvest. If you dug trenches or built a sun shield, dismantle it appropriately.

Wash it and then use it as you wish. Cook it in some fried rice, soup, salad, or dip it in some fresh celery hummus and enjoy!

Cons of blanching

Blanched celery from the garden.
The celery stalks are paler than the dark green you’re used to.

The only drawback of blanching celery is that you get fewer nutrients than if you waited for it to fully ripen

Celery is rich in many different nutrients like vitamins K, C, A, and some minerals.

The earlier you harvest, the fewer nutrients it has.

But you trade nutrient density for taste and texture. If you can’t stand the taste of bitter celery, then try blanching it.

You still get SOME nutrients so you’re still eating your veggies.

It’s preferable to none at all, right? If you hate the taste of celery, you need to try it blanched first before you knock it.

Self-blanching celery

Some celery varieties blanch themselves.

Most people will want to blanch it themselves because they can choose how sweet they want it, but if you prefer to not do this, consider buying and planting a self-blanching type.

Some of the most popular self blanching celery types are Monarch celeriac or Golden Heirloom. You can find them in specialty shops online or at local nurseries.

Further reading

Here are some additional resources you may find useful for blanching:

Now you know how to blanch!

Fresh celery from the garden.
This meal has been in a long time making.

Although blanching helps remove the bitterness of celery by giving it a sweeter and milder texture, it does also remove some beneficial nutrients.

If you don’t like bitter celery and this is what’s keeping you from eating it, then blanching is beneficial.

But if you eat bitter celery regardless, then blanching may be unnecessary. Consider both sides.

What do you think? Will you be blanching your next celery harvest? Let us know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “How to Blanch Celery Like a Pro (Beginner’s Guide)”

  1. Hi, thanks for gathering & presenting the different garden blanching methods for celery! I just planted the bottom of a store-bought celery stalk in my garden: it had grown roots & baby stems in my fridge, when I had it standing in a couple inches of water to keep it crisp. That thing was ready to grow! So I carefully removed the stalks I wanted to eat, and then planted in my garden the remaining celery bottom, with the new young leaves above the soil. There are many YouTube vids out there showing people planting their leftover veggie scraps & getting results!
    Here is my only criticism: Please delete the sections headed “What does blanching do to vegetables,” and “Do you have to blanch celery?” People might get confused with your sudden shift to a different subject with the same name. Culinary (cooking-related) blanching and horticultural blanching (keeping a plant pale by preventing greening via photosynthesis) are not related. Your mention of blanching in cookery will confuse beginning gardeners, as it has nothing to do with growing celery, it’s a whole different meaning. The words sound alike and are spelled identically but have separate meanings (homonyms), horticulture as opposed to cooking. Kind of like the words “fine,” meaning ok, good, or even of a superior quality; “fine” meaning the payment of a monetary penalty like a traffic fine; and “fine” meaning small-textured or thin (fine sandpaper, or baby-fine hair texture). The culinary (cooking) definition of blanching is submerging any vegetables in boiling water for a brief period of time, then in ice water, halting the cooking process & retaining the vibrant deep colors of the vegetable before the boiling water turns them soggy and colorless like overcooked mushy peas. It’s a great cooking technique but has no relation to the horticultural process of blanching celery while it’s growing.
    Other than that mix-up, I really appreciated your summaries of the various methods of horticultural blanching. Thanks!
    – Sam

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