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How to Prepare Leeks

Leeks gradate in colour from white to dark green. Typically, the bottom half, or what’s commonly referred to as the “white to light green part” in recipes, is the most tender. The dark green ends are usually used to flavour stock or are simply discarded.

1) Cleaning

The white part of a leek grows underground and as a result, a lot of soil and dirt gets trapped between the layers of the leek. Therefore, it’s important to wash them well before use.

  • If you’re using sliced leeks in a recipe, cut the leeks first and then place them in a colander and rinse well under cold water. You may need to drain and rinse a few times until the water runs clear.
  • If you’re halving your leeks, it’s easy to flush out any dirt by rinsing the cut halves.
  • If you’re keeping your leeks wholeSimply Recipes has great step-by-step photo instructions on how to clean them. David Lebovitz slices upward from the middle of the white part of leeks and swirls the leeks around in a basin of water. He also has some great step-by-step photo instructions.

2) Cooking

  • Leeks can be left whole, halved, or sliced. They can also be boiled, broiled, braised, fried, grilled, roasted, or steamed.
  • Important to note: if you are cooking whole leeks, the best cooking methods are braising, steaming or grilling.
  • Yield: 1 pound leeks = 2 cups chopped or 1 cup cooked

3) Freezing

  • Leeks are easy to freeze for future use in soups or stocks. The easiest way is to slice your leeks, and then clean them well and pat dry with a clean dishtowel. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and flash freeze before transferring to an airtight container. Label them well with the date and use within a few months so they don’t get freezer-burn.
  • If you’d like to freeze your leeks for a longer period, it is recommended that you blanch them first. To blanch, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. While the water is getting hot, prepare an ice bath for the leeks and set aside. Add your cleaned, sliced leeks to the boiling water and stir to submerge them. Continue blanching until they turn a vibrant green colour. Quickly drain the leeks and plunge immediately into the ice bath to prevent them from overcooking. Drain, pat dry as best you can, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container. Label with the date and use within 4-6 months. 

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