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I like celery with dips (e.g. blue cheese or ranch dip) but I am not sure what is the best way to prepare the celery petioles: Of course I clean them. I also remove the very lower, white parts (which are often more dirty and spotted) but what else? Remove the leafy top parts? What bothers me the most is the strings. Sometimes they are OK, sometimes they are annoyingly hard to chew. How to know? How to remove them?

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It's all edible, of course. So, much if your treatment is personal preference. I find that the outer stalks are typically more stringy than the inner ones. You can use a vegetable peeler to remove a layer of strings from the stalks. That can help.

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You can chill them in ice water 30 minutes before serving to make them a bit less pungent or chill in the refrigerator in a sealed bag after chopping them into sticks (short term 2 days at most, rub with lemon juice to reduce oxidization past a 2-day marker).

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