Do You Have to Peel Celery?

You can peel celery to avoid the tough strings—but you don't have to. It's up to your personal preference.

When it comes to greens, celery might be underrated. I’m not sure if there’s a more classic after-school snack than celery stalks and peanut butter! You can use celery to add texture and flavor to homemade soup recipes. In the Midwest, celery is a go-to relish tray vegetable. Plus, popping a stalk or two as a garnish in your bloody Mary is a great way to eat your greens.

Still, not everyone likes to eat celery raw, partially due to the stringy nature of the stalks. So, what’s the best way to peel celery? Here’s what you need to know.

Does Celery Need to Be Peeled?

You can peel celery if you’d like, but you don’t have to.

Let’s start with celery in its raw form: whole, fresh, and sitting on your counter after a trip to the grocery store. If you go in and cut or break off pieces, you may be left with some of the plant’s stringy attachments on the stalks. While these aren’t harmful to eat, they’re not necessarily pleasant, and can be tough to chew—especially for kids.

For science’s sake, these stringy bits are called collenchyma cells, which are essentially water-filled tissue that stiffens to give celery its crunch. It’s safe to eat, but we understand if you want to get rid of the tough parts.

So you don’t have to peel your celery stalks, but you definitely can if you want to. Be sure to keep the base of your celery to regrow celery from the scraps!

How to Peel Celery

We recommend the following two options when it comes to peeling your celery. Don’t worry—stripping a stalk of celery isn’t anywhere near as tedious as peeling other veggies (though we do have a handy potato-peeling trick).

Your first option is to use a knife. We recommend using a small, sharp paring knife in this case for easier handling. All you need to do is slice the visible string from the stalk’s base to top and remove it. Pretty simple, right?

You also have the option of using a vegetable peeler to rid your celery of any tough strings. This might take off more of the stalk than you’d like, but it’s a great option if you don’t feel comfortable wielding a knife.

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Hannah Twietmeyer
Hannah is a writer and content creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a passion for all things food, health, community and lifestyle. She is a journalism graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a previous dining and drink contributor for Madison Magazine.