I’m sure that we all know that the leeks are members of the onion family, sometimes called the cousin to the onion.
This is although their flavor can be milder and sweeter than that of onions. The many ways that leeks can be used in the kitchen are what make you want to keep them fresher for longer in order to allow you to use them for as many recipes as possible.
For best quality, leeks should not be frozen because of the rich moisture content that they contain within them. However, for the sole purpose of avoiding food wastage in this day and time, they can be frozen.
It would be important to note that when leeks are defrosted, they tend to become soggy and chewy. As such, the best advice would be to use them without defrosting or thawing them.
This way, you can still enjoy some semblance of the awesome taste and quality of the glorious leeks and the crunch that comes with them.
Can you freeze leeks? Yes, indeed you can by trimming them, cleaning, blanching, and placing them in a freezer. This helps to extend the shelf life of the leeks by months. Other great ways of storing leeks are discussed in the article.
How to properly freeze leeks
The process of freezing leeks in the comfort of your own kitchen or home can be reduced into the following steps:
- We always start off the process by cutting off the hanging roots of the leeks and trimming off the dark green tops of the leeks. The reason behind this is because these darker green top albeit tasty are very chewy. You can choose to not throw them out but instead keep them to use them when you are preparing a soup.
- After cutting the ends, the next step is to cut up your leeks into half or whichever way you choose. It is however advised to do the cutting along the length of the leek.
- After cutting the leeks comes the cleaning. This can be done by simply rinsing them under clean running water or in a basin of clean water. Separation of the layers of the leek is important at this step as the dirt that gets trapped in between the layers of the leek is oftentimes not entirely removed.
- Cleaning is then followed by boiling some water then add the leeks into the boiling water. The leeks should be left in the water for about two minutes. This is called blanching and is an optional step.
- Proceed to drain out the water and place the boiled leeks in an ice bath. This simply stops the cooking process so that the leeks do not over-process.
- Once you have removed the leeks from the ice bath, dry them using kitchen towels and spread them on a plate or sort of tray ensuring that they are not touching.
- Place the plate or tray in the freezer until the leeks have just begun to freeze. This is called flash freezing. Then transfer them into a resealable freezer friendly container and place it in the freezer.
How do you keep leeks fresh for longer?
There are several ways that you can use to store leeks, all depending on how fresh the leek is and how long you would want to keep it for before your use.
The first is simply storing the leeks wrapped in a plastic bag and placed in the refrigerator.
The wrapping using plastic wrap will ensure that the moisture contained within the leek is not lost, it also helps to keep the smell of the leeks from permeating into everything else in the refrigerator.
Always note to neither wash nor cut the leeks until you actually want to use them. Alternatively, you can wrap the leeks using a damp kitchen towel.
The second method is freezing the leeks, a concept which we have already thoroughly addressed in this article.
Moving away from refrigeration, you can simply store the leeks in water like you would flowers in a vase for display. Simply take a jar or glass, add cold water then place the leeks into the water and finish by placing the jar in a cool and dry place.
This method will keep the leeks good and fresh for a maximum of two days only.
Alternatively, you can just take some cooking oil such as olive oil, and slightly cook your leeks. After that just bag them and place them in the freezer for your later use.
How long do leeks last?
The key to ensuring that leeks and any other food item contained in the kitchen lie in properly storing the items. If properly stored, raw leeks can typically last in the refrigerator for between seven days and two weeks.
When it comes to the freezer, if they are properly stored, leeks will keep fresh and maintain their best quality for up to twelve months. When they are left in the pantry or just lying on the kitchen counter, leeks are generally good and fresh for about five days at most.
When the leeks are cooked on the other hand tend to go bad relatively fast. Placing them in the refrigerator does not really do very much for the cooked leeks that are apart from keeping them fresh for between one and two days more.
How to know if leeks have gone bad.
Following our comment on proper storage and its effect on the shelf life of leeks, if left without proper storage or care, leeks can start showing signs of going bad quite rapidly.
Even though this is the case, there are some steps that you can take as an individual to maintain the freshness of the leeks and minimize their wastage if you have too many to use at once. As always, using your senses is the best way to tell whether your leeks have gone bad.
Visually, when you look at the leeks, they should normally be green in color. If you look at them and the color has changed from green to yellow, then they have started to go bad.
You can choose to trim away the yellow bits and the remaining parts will still be safe for your consumption. If you also notice any signs of mold growing on the leeks, it would be best to just throw them out.
When you touch fresh leeks, they should be firm and crisp. If you touch your leeks and they are mushy and slimy, do not attempt to use them. Just throw them out and get fresh ones.
Last but not least, smell the leeks. Bad leeks just generally smell off. Discard them immediately.
What are the health benefits of leeks?
As with every other fruit or vegetable in your pantry or kitchen, there are advantages and benefits to be gotten from eating leeks. This includes;
- Leeks have been found to be a very good source of vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin K is especially important as it helps with blood clotting functions.
- Leeks also contain minerals such as iron that is important for the formation process of red blood cells and manganese which is key in regulating the functions of the brain and nerves.
- Leeks are also a good source of dietary fiber.
- They also supply energy to the body when consumed.
What do you use leeks for?
In the kitchen, leeks have a variety of uses borrowing from their versatility. Essentially, since leeks are in the same family as onions, then they can be used the same way as onions which are a lot of ways.
One of the simplest and fastest ways to prepare leeks is to simply slice them and sauté them over medium heat in butter or cooking oil of your choice such as olive oil.
Do this until the leeks are translucent and you can enjoy them that way with salt to taste or added to a dish. Generally, leeks go well with chicken, cream, cheese, garlic, and ham in terms of taste. They also tend to compliment spices and herbs such as parsley, thyme, and basil.
You can choose to prepare leeks in several ways ranging from frying them, boiling them, roasting them or even caramelized. Always ensure that when you are preparing leeks, to not overcook them as this will make them mushy and chewy.
How do you know if a leek is good?
The general rule of thumb is that when you are at the farmers market or at the store looking to purchase some leeks or on your farm looking to harvest some leeks, you should look out for those that are much firmer to touch and crisp with no wrinkles on them.
Ensure that you go for the leeks that are smaller in diameter, that is between one and two inches.
This will ensure that they have more flavor in them. Also, ensure that the leeks you choose are straighter and that the tops are dark green. The leaves ought to be light green in color.
When you look at the leeks and they are either wilting at the top or have begun to yellow at the leaves, care should be taken to avoid purchasing the leeks in question since these are signs of the leeks starting to go bad.