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Leek

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Leeks

Leek

About Leek Edit

Wikipedia Article About Leek on Wikipedia

The leek (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (L.) J. Gay) is a vegetable belonging, with onion and garlic, to the Alliaceae, the onion family. Also in this species are two very different vegetables: The elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) grown for its bulbs, and kurrat which is grown for its leaves in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. The leek is also sometimes classified as Allium porrum (L.)

Rather than forming a tight bulb such as the onion, the leek produces a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths which are generally blanched by pushing soil around them (trenching). They are often sold as small seedlings in flats which are started early in greenhouses, to be set out as weather permits. Once established in the garden, leeks are hardy; many varieties can be left in the ground during the winter to be harvested as needed.

Leek cultivars can be subdivided in several ways, but the chiefest is "summer leeks", intended for harvest in the season when planted, and overwintering leeks, meant to be harvested in the spring of the year following planting. Summer leek types are generally smaller than overwintering types; overwintering types are generally more strongly flavored.

The leek is a vegetable belonging, with onion and garlic, to the Alliaceae, the onion family. Also in this species are two very different vegetables: the elephant garlic grown for its bulbs, and kurrat which is grown for its leaves in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. The leek is also sometimes classified as Allium porrum.

Native to the Mediterranean region, this vegetable dates back to around 4000 BC. Although its flavor and fragrance are similar to its relatives, they are slightly sweet tasting and often served as a side dish.

Form Edit

Leeks look like a giant scallion and are related to both garlic and the onion. Rather than forming a tight bulb such as the onion, the leek produces a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths which are generally blanched by pushing soil around them (trenching). They are often sold as small seedlings in flats which are begun early in greenhouses, to be set out as weather permits. Once established in the garden, leeks are hardy; many varieties can be left in the ground during the winter to be harvested as needed.

Cultivars Edit

Leek cultivars can be subdivided in several ways, but the most common types are "summer leeks", intended for harvest in the season when planted, and overwintering leeks, meant to be harvested in the spring of the year following planting. Summer leek types are generally smaller than overwintering types; overwintering types are generally more strongly flavored.

Growing Edit

Leeks are easy to grow from seed and tolerate standing in the field for an extended harvest. Leeks usually reach maturity in the autumn months, and they have few pest or disease problems. Leeks can be bunched and harvested early when they are about the size of a finger or pencil, or they can be thinned and allowed to grow to a much larger mature size. Hilling leeks can produce better specimens.

Cuisine Edit

The edible portions are the white onion base and light green stalk. They are an essential ingredient of Cock-a-Leekie Soup and of vichyssoise. They can also be used raw in salads, doing especially well when they are the prime ingredient. Leeks make excellent side dishes and appetizers but can also be added to many entrees including soups, stews, quiches, and salads.

Because of their symbolism in Wales, leeks have come to be used extensively in that country's cuisine.

Selection Edit

Leeks are found in markets year round with a peak during fall to early spring. Select leeks with clean white bottoms making sure that the ends are straight and not larger than 1 ½ inches in diameter, otherwise they will have a tough texture. The tops should be green, crisp and fresh-looking. Small to medium leeks (less than 1½ inches in diameter) are the tenderest.

Storage Edit

Refrigerate leeks, unwashed, in a loosely fitting plastic bag for up to one week. Storing leeks in plastic helps them hold onto moisture and keep the odor from spreading to other foods.

Preparation Edit

Leeks carry some dirt especially in between the layer of overlapping leaves. Begin cleaning by removing discolored leaves and trimming off green tops and root tips. Cut the leek lengthwise by inserting a knife from the base. Spread the leaves and rinse thoroughly. Placing the fanned out leaves in a bowl of water and gently moving the leaves will loosen any remaining dirt.

This delicate vegetable cooks quickly and overcooking them will result in a slimy and soft product. In addition, they store heat well and will continue to cook even after the heat source is removed.

Leek Recipes Edit

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