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Everything to Know About Cooking and Shopping for In Season Leeks

Everything to Know About Cooking and Shopping for In Season Leeks

Plus, 3 new recipes!

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The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we’ll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To market, we go!

Whether they're used as an ingredient in soups or stews, served with meat or fish, in a casserole or a vegetarian dish: Leeks are real all-rounders. They’re easy to prepare and high in vitamin C, K, and minerals like folic acid, as well as many other secondary plant compounds with antioxidant and antibacterial properties. That’s enough for us to stop considering leeks as just something green in a soup.

Even the Roman conqueror Nero knew to appreciate leeks because of the mustard oils they contain, which are said to be good for the vocal cords. His affection towards leeks even brought him the nickname “Porrphagus,” which basically means “leek-devourer.”

Even though leeks are commonly used in everyday dishes, they almost never shine as the main ingredient. But hobby-gourmets are fans of the versatility of this wonderful ingredient. With their mild but distinct aroma, leeks regularly improve soups, stews, and fried dishes without being overpowering. Grilled, baked, fried, raw, or cooked, the choices are endless.

What’s your favorite leek recipe? Tell us in the comments, then upload a picture of your creations for all to enjoy!

1. When Are Leeks in Season?

Leeks are very resistant to the cold, and therefore grow almost all year round. But do you know the difference between summer-, fall-, and winter-leeks? Summer-leeks are sowed in January in green houses and moved to fields in April. They are then harvested in July and August. Winter-leeks are harvested from October up until spring. Their flavor is more intense than the summer-leeks. And they even look different: Summer-leeks are thinner and have darker leaves than the winter variety.

2. How to Find the Perfect Leeks

It’s best to buy uncut leeks, since trimming makes them dry out. Its leaves should be dark green without any yellow marks. Leek should also not be soft to touch since that is a sign of wilting and means that it is not as mild in flavor anymore. The middle should be bright white and shiny—a yellow, matte surface in an indicator for being old. The surface should be flush since cracks make ideal breading grounds for bacteria.

3. How to Store Leeks

Generally, leeks should always be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. Stored in the fridge, leeks can last for multiple weeks. Because of their intense smell, we recommend storing them as far away from other vegetables as possible. Of course you can always slice, blanch, and freeze them to have perfectly ripe leeks handy without leaving an odor in your fridge.

4. How to Prepare Leeks

Leeks should be cleaned thoroughly since soil is often tucked between the leaves. If already sliced, make sure to cook immediately, since the leeks could dry out and get bitter.

Most people discard the dark leaves, even though all parts of the leek are edible. If you don’t like the fibrous and woody dark leaves as much, try finely slicing them and incorporating them into soups or stews. They’ll soften through cooking.

The light green and white middle of the leek is the most mild, and therefore most used, part of the leek. Start by removing the ends and any wilted leaves. Then cut the leek in half lengthwise and wash out any of the sand that is still left inside and continue to prepare as you usually would.

5. What to make next?

All week long, we’ll be featuring new leek recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what’s new, then try one for yourself! Here’s where to start:

Leek and apple quiche with bacon

Leek and apple quiche with bacon

German-style leek and cheese soup

German-style leek and cheese soup

Savory babka with goat cheese and leek

Savory babka with goat cheese and leek

Published on August 13, 2017

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