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Cheese/spread in celery ribs: celery's too tough, too large; what to do?

Yesterday I brought home some chicken salad and some herbed cheese spread. Wife and SIL were having it on little toasty crackers that she'd bought.

I went to the fridge and pulled a few ribs off a head of celery. Rinsed and cut into 3" lengths, and stuffed with an amalgam of the cheese spread and chicken salad.

It's been years since I've had cream cheese-stuffed celery and the like. The celery I used was too thick, perhaps too mature. I guess next time I could buy celery hearts, instead. I'm also tempted to try blanching the celery to make it more tender. So what should I do, buy *smaller* celery, or can I blanch (or even peel?) celery to make it less toothy?

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  1. don't blanch, it'll get rubbery. just peel it with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife - i do it all the time with woody stalks.

    6 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I've only peeled celery that was going to be braised. It never occurred to me to peel it for crudite (or this application).

      1. re: shaogo

        I often peel celery for many uses - let us know how it turns out.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I do too. I hate those tough strings!

          1. re: bayoucook

            When making soup or stock I don't peel celery but if using the stalks chopped in a salad or on a crudités tray I peel the stalks then soak in ice water to keep the crunch...so to speak.

            1. re: Gio

              i'm with gio -- always peeling for raw-eating applications.

      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Who knew? Add this to my list of "things I've learned on Chowhound." I will definitely have to try this.

        Gotta tell ya, I love cream cheese and remember licking out the cream cheese and trying to feed the celery to our German Shepherd when I was a kid. Unfortunately, Duchess didn't like it, either...and it didn't exactly blend as she gnawed it into the carpet. ;)

      3. Sometimes, when celery is picked too late or stored too long, the outer stalks become hollow and those are pretty much beyond rehab for tender raw use. I'm not exactly sure what others mean by "peeling" the celery. The method I use is to simply "destring" the celery. Wash the stalks and cut them to the lengths you desire, then, starting at the root (larger) end of each section, slip a paring knife under the strings and lift. Explanation: when you look at the end of a cut celery stalk you can see the threads near the surface of the outer layer of the stalk. You just slip the sharp edge of a paring knife a little way under these, then press the threads against the side of the knife and pull the threads away. Should some of the threads break, you can repeat the process from the other end of the celery stalk, but generally starting from the root end and pulling "upward" produces the best result.

        I have tried a vegetable peeler but found it often as not cut through the strings/threads and left some of them in place. The destringing method doesn't do that. When you work your way into the very tender white stalks in the heart, they rarely require destringing. Have you tried filling celery with peanut butter? '-)

        13 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          I was taught by my momma to string celery. I have a more refined version than her snapping it into pieces and pulling the strings off, much like you would shuck corn. I make a small incision on the inner side with a paring knife, but I don't cut through the strings. I start by doing this on each end of the stalk. I grab the small bit of end and pull it down, removing many of the strings. Then I do it in the middle. By the time you do this three to five times the strings are gone and the stick is cut into pieces.
          Nothing worse than a mouthful of celery fiber or finding it really difficult to bite off a piece.

          1. re: Scargod

            waaaay inefficient, scargod.

            ps, you never answered (another thread) about how many boiled peanut purveyors you'd tried....

            1. re: alkapal

              OK, I'll kill two birds with one stone! What is inefficient about this method? It is not difficult or time consuming. Do I need to draw you a diagram or come over and demonstrate?
              Peanuts: ate boiled ones once from a roadside stand in Georgia. I didn't care for them. Perhaps they were not fresh. I love peanuts.
              Any other things I've missed?

              1. re: Scargod

                testy, testy! ;-).

                how inefficient? i quote the inimitable scargod: " By the time you do this three to five times the strings are gone and the stick is cut into pieces."

                1. re: alkapal

                  Hey, I do it the same way, and it doesn't take as long as it takes to describe it, so lay off!!

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I too thought it sounded kinda tedious but maybe we just don't understand. Do you think it's the water ?!?

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I see. Now I'm a freak because I don't like to waste celery? ;~)
                    It's not the water... Yes, just a spike in testosterone.
                    I can do one by the time you dig out your peeler.

                    1. re: Scargod

                      i don't "peel" -- i just break the bottom end, leave the strings attached, and pull upwards, so it is de-stringed in one fell swoop. then i'll cut to the purpose at hand.

                      ps, i don't like to waste anything, including celery, scargod.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        That's the right way. It's the outer layer (that is, along the outer side of the stalk) of strings that are thickest and toughest. The inner ones are not usually worth worrying about.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Well, that's where I start, too, now that I think about it. I may be crawfishing...
                          I take a whole stalk and break it at the base and pull to the top. This gets the majority of strings. Then I make the incision about a half inch from the end and pull that down. That gets most of the remaining strings. Then, as I mentioned, you can score, break and pull from the middle and other points ad infinitum, if you choose to. This way you will get 99% of the 12 threads...
                          Oh, I forgot that I trim up the big end piece so it's not ragged. The logic of my method is that the side strings want to pop if you just break the pieces and they still need to be trimmed if you want them to look neat. When I pull from the base I don't do it all at once for the same reason. I do it in two or three finger-fulls. No vituperous talk, please!

                          1. re: Scargod

                            Hah... only on Chowhound would we get a 4 day discussion on how to destring a celery stalk.

                            Truth be told, sometimes I break the stalk in half and pull up or down... but the vegetable peeler does a good job of removing the tough strings when I'm not in a hurry.

            2. I love celery, and most of the time will remove the strings, however I'll eat it even with the strings. Actually I don't really care for fat stuffed celery pieces, so what I do is If the celery is too mature, (or not) I'll clean it and then cut it into smaller length wise sticks. Place them around the dip along with a several small spreaders and then just dip and stack the dip ever so carefully using the spreader. Pop in your mouth for a one bite appetizer. No napkins needed.

              1. A lot of people don't realize you're supposed to string large celery stalks. Far too many folks.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Karl S

                  I've only ever "strung" celery not peeled.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Yes, I string rather than peel, like a huge multi-stringed bean.

                2. I always peel celery, using a Lancashire or Y peeler (whichever I find first)