One of my favorite annual herbs is leaf or cutting celery (Apium graveolens ‘Amsterdam’). It is difficult to grow real celery here in Minnesota and buying celery in the grocery store is extremely expensive all year long with the exception of those few weeks during the holidays when it is on special. The capper for me is that store-bought celery is also #2 on the “Dirty Dozen” list for vegetables with pesticide residue.
The dark green, glossy foliage of cutting celery somewhat resembles flat-leaved parsley, but when added to soups and stews it tastes just like the real thing. I have always dried it just like my other culinary herbs, but this season I decided to try freezing my harvest in ice cube trays. When my children were babies I always made their baby food myself and froze it in ice cube trays so I thought, “Why not try it with herbs?”
I washed the bundles of cutting celery leaves and stems and then chopped them up just as I would when making soup. I filled the ice cube trays halfway full of water and then put about a tablespoon or so of chopped leaves into each compartment. When all the compartments were filled with cutting celery leaves the ice cube trays went into the refrigerator.
Later that day when they were frozen solid, I went back and topped each compartment off with more water so that the water level was even with the top of the ice cube tray. There was some foliage sticking up out of the water, but since it is all going to be frozen until I use them anyway–not a big deal.
The next day I just dumped the ice cube trays out onto my cutting board and then put all the cubes into a heavy freezer bag marked with the date and what was in the bag. Couldn’t have been easier and I can’t wait to throw a few cubes of cutting celery into a steaming pot of chicken noodle soup when the weather turns chilly.
I have more more information on cutting celery and other herbs in my herb article.