Leeks are a part of the onion family and look similar to scallions (green onions) but are much larger. Rather than forming a bulb like an onion, their layers form in a long cylinder. The white and light green parts of leeks are edible, while the dark green leaves are though and fibrous. Leeks have a mild, onion-like taste and are commonly added to stock for flavor. Historically, leeks were a part of the Egyptian diet and have grown in Mesopotamia since the beginning of the second millennium BCE. In Ancient Rome, leeks were though to be superior to garlic and onions. Leeks are also culturally significant in Wales, serving as a national emblem worn by the Welsh Guards.
Leeks contain nearly half of the % Daily Value for Vitamin K!
- Fiber important for digestive health and keeps you feeling full
- Vitamin C important for immune system, healthy skin, and wound healing
- Vitamin K important for blood clotting
- Folate important for preventing neural tube defects and may help prevent cancer
- Iron important in red blood cell formation
How to Shop
Look for leeks with large white and light green sections, since this is the edible part. Thicker leeks tend to be more fibrous, so choose a leek that is no larger than 1.5 inches in diameter. The leeks should have a fresh appearance and be firm to the touch. Avoid cracked, bruised, wilted, or yellowing leeks.
How to Grow
Leeks are very easy to grow from seed but have a long growing time - about 6 months until harvest. The soil must be loose and drain well. Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep in even rows and cover lightly. Keep the soil moist and warm, and within a couple of weeks, you should begin to see green shoots emerge. Leeks can be harvested early (grown to about finger width) or thinned to allow for much wider stalks.
How to Store
Do not wash or trim the dark leaves of the leek before storing; this encourages spoilage. Place the leeks in an airtight storage bag and wrap loosely to keep in moisture. In the crisper of the fridge, fresh leeks can last up to 2 weeks.