How to Select Leeks
- Select leeks with long white and light green areas. Avoid any leeks that are discolored. The leeks should be white near the roots and a darker green near the ends of the stalks, also called shanks.
- Look for leeks with smooth, firm, and crisp shanks. Avoid any that are wilted, mushy, cracked, or split.
- Choose small or medium leeks when possible. Larger leeks tend to be tough and fibrous and can develop a woody core.
When are Leeks in Season?
Leeks are a delicious and nutritious vegetable you can add to many savory dishes. The best time to eat leeks is in the fall and winter months, typically between October through April in the United States. While you can buy leeks year-round, this is when leeks are at their freshest, offering the most flavor and nutrients. Try them in soups, stews, or sautéed as a side dish.
Varieties of Leeks
A popular vegetable in Europe, leeks come in hundreds of varieties. These are the most popular varieties of leeks found in US stores:
- American Flag: This is a traditional and widely grown variety of leek in the US, with long, thick white stems and a mild flavor.
- Blue Solaise: This heirloom variety has deep blue-green foliage and is known for its sweet and tender flavor.
- King Richard: This is a high-yielding leek variety with a long and slender white stem and a mild flavor that makes it versatile for lots of dishes.
- Tadorna: This French variety has a short, thick stem and a sweet flavor, making it a popular choice for roasting and grilling.
- Varna: This Bulgarian variety is known for its large, tender white stems and sweet, delicate flavor. It is popular for soups and stews.
Leeks Nutrition Facts & Benefits
Leeks are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. They are also low in calories and rich in fiber. Here are the nutritional facts for one cup of leeks:
- Approx 54 calories
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 1.5 grams of protein
- 12.6 grams of carbohydrates
- 3.4 grams of natural sugar
- 1.6 grams of fiber
Here are proven ways that leeks can benefit your health:
- Leeks are a fantastic source of a polyphenol antioxidant called kaempferol, known to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Leeks are in the allium vegetable family, which can reduce inflammation.
- Leeks promote a healthy gut because they have high fiber and prebiotics.
How to Store Leeks
How To Store Leeks: Store fresh, unwashed leeks in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Loosely wrap the leeks in a paper towel and place them in a sealable plastic bag. Fresh leeks will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. Alternatively, store leeks on the counter by standing them up in a container, then filling the container with water up to the top of the roots. These leeks will stay fresh on your counter for 1 to 2 days. Check out our guide on How to Clean, Cut, and Cook Leeks.
How To Freeze Leeks: Prepare leeks for freezer storage by cutting off the dark green leaves and the roots. Next, slice each leek in half lengthwise. Wash the leeks thoroughly, then chop them into small half-circle pieces, about an inch in length. Blanch the leeks by boiling for 30 seconds to 1 minute and immediately dunking into cold water. Spread the leek pieces onto a baking sheet, keeping a small amount of space between each one. Freeze overnight or until the pieces are completely frozen, then transfer to a sealable plastic bag for long-term storage. Leeks can be frozen for up to 1 year.
How to Prepare Leeks
Leeks are a unique and delicious vegetable you should introduce to your family. It might take a few introductions before your smaller children will grow to like them. They are different, but a great way to mix up your meal routine. We love how it adds flavor and texture to dishes. These are our favorite ways to prepare leeks:
- Roasted: Cut leeks into long segments, season the leeks with oil, salt, and pepper, and roast until tender and caramelized. Roasted leeks are a great side dish.
- Braised: Leeks can be cooked slowly in a flavorful liquid, such as chicken or vegetable broth, until tender and infused with flavor. Braised leeks are delicious on their own or as a side dish.
- Sauteed: Slice the leek thinly and saute with butter, garlic, and herbs until soft and lightly browned. Sauteed leeks make a great flavor addition to your favorite savory dish.
- Grilled: Cut leeks in half lengthwise and brush them with oil before placing them on a hot grill. Grilled leeks have a smoky and slightly charred flavor, making them a great vegetable for barbecues.