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How To Tell If Celery Is Bad

Celery is a great component to add to many soups, salads, stews, and much more. It’s a key ingredient in many dishes.

Do you find yourself wondering how to tell if celery is bad? It can be deceiving when you look at celery to tell if it is still good.

You can tell if celery has gone bad if it has changed in color, become soft or bendy, is slimy, or is foul smelling.

Celery on a cutting board

How to tell if celery is bad


If celery is bad, it will have a slimy texture, and the leaves will be yellow or brown. The celery may also emit an unpleasant odor. You should not eat bad celery as it could make you sick.

Looking at your celery can be one way to know if it has gone bad but you will have better luck in knowing when you pick it up in your hand.

Feeling it for sliminess or smelling it for bad odor are going to be your best bet when seeing they your celery is still good.

Another sign of celery gone bad is whether or not it cracks or bends when you bend it in half. It tends to last a while so if you cook a lot then you are prob all set.

Celery should always be washed before you cut it up.

How does it look

looking at celery from cutting board

The way that your celery looks is a good indicator of its freshness. Whether you are trying to pick celery out at the store or trying to decide if what’s in your fridge is still good or not.

Healthy celery should have light green stocks. If the stalks start turning white then they are no longer fresh. They are naturally white at the base where they attach which is ok.

Any sign of mold you should throw it away. It is not recommended to cut off the mold and use the remaining celery. When in doubt throw it out!

How does it feel

feeling celery

The most obvious sign of spoiled celery is when it becomes limp or bendy. If you bend celery in half it should snap or break. If not then it has most likely gone by.

Another sign of bad celery is if it feels slimy or mushy then it should be thrown away. The dampness out of the package is ok.

For other veggies you can tell by feel is how to tell if a tomato has gone bad, how to tell if garlic has gone bad, or how to tell if green beans are bad.

How does it smell

celery on cutting board

Celery doesn’t have much of a smell to it but if it has gone bad it might smell moldy or sour. If this is the case, do not cook with it.

Cooking with celery that smells bad is likely to give you food poisoning. Cooking with it will not cook off bad bacteria.

How to store celery

Celery can be stored on the counter but will last much longer in the refrigerator. Typically, celery that is left out on the counter will only last you a couple of days.

The crisper drawer is the best spot in your fridge for celery as it will help maintain the moisture levels and keep it lasting longer.

Celery that has already been cut up or cooked should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

It is recommended that you blanch celery first if you plan to freeze it. It will help keep the integrity when you use it later. It is best used in a cooked dish as it won’t hold its crunch as it was when it was fresh.

Check out my post that goes in-depth on how to store celery.

How long does celery last

Bunch of celery on cutting board

If you have celery that you have already cut up, you want to store it in the refrigerator in a sealed container for no longer than a week.

When you store celery in the fridge it can last 2-3 weeks.

Cooked celery should be stored the same way, in a sealed container, and used within 3-4 days.

Freezing celery will allow you to keep celery on hand whenever you need it and it will last you about a year. It won’t have the same crunch that it has when it is fresh but it is great for soups and sauces.

Fresh Celery2-3 days1-2 weeks2 month
Cut Celery4-7 days12 months
Cooked Celery3-4 days12-18 months
These are general numbers


No, it is not ok to eat old celery. You will be at risk of food poisoning from bacteria and/or mold growing on the celery.

Cooking celery doesn’t kill bacteria growing on celery that has gone bad.

If your celery is brown inside that it has gone bad. It has started to grow a bacteria known as pink mold which can cause intestinal bacterial infections or food poisoning.

If you see brown in your celery it should be thrown out and not consumed.

Celery that is limp has gone beyond its life span and should be tossed. If there are no other signs of spoilage like mold, sliminess, or dark spots you may be able to use it in smoothies or soups.

My recommendation is to toss it and not risk the possibility of food-borne illness.

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