Store leeks in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator wrapped in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks. For long term storage, you can freeze leeks for a period of 3 months making sure to blanch them first as they become bitter when frozen raw.
Leeks are of the onion family with a slightly sweeter flavor. They are widely used to flavor soups, stocks, casseroles, and white meats just to mention but a few. Their versatility in the kitchen deserves nothing but the best storage methods to retain their freshness for longer.
Best ways to store leeks
Brush off excess soil from leeks before storage and wash only when you want to use them. Washing leeks before storage exposes it to excess moisture encouraging the growth of molds.
choose the coolest part of your pantry to store leeks waiting to be refrigerated as warmth speeds up wilting and yellowing.
Trim off leeks only when you are ready to use and store them away from highly odor-absorbent foods like celery as they emit a strong odor that can alter their taste.
The cold in the fridge helps to prevent leeks from yellowing.
To store your leeks properly in the fridge, wrap them loosely in a plastic bag to contain odor and retain moisture and put them in the crisper drawer.
If stored well, leeks can stay fresh in the fridge for a maximum of 2 weeks.
You can store cooked leeks in the fridge as well but you should plan to use them in 2 days as they are highly perishable.
Bought leeks in bulk and don’t intend to use them all at once? Freezing is the best option for you. However, you will need to blanch your leeks first to retain the color and prevent them from becoming bitter.
Here’s how to freeze leeks:
- Trim off the dark green tops and cut off the roots. The darker green parts are very tasty though chewy hence can be used to flavor soups or stocks.
- Cut your leeks into halves lengthwise.
- Rinse under running water removing the layers to get rid of the dirt that gets trapped in between.
- Cut leeks depending on how you plan to use it in the future.
- In a pot of boiling water, add the leeks and let them boil for 2 minutes.
- Drain and put them in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Dry the leeks and spread them on a baking tray in a single layer making sure they don’t touch each other.
- Freeze for 2-3 hours or until they are completely frozen.
- Transfer the frozen leeks in a freezing bag and seal it. Make sure to remove all air before sealing to retain the quality and prevent freezer burns.
- Put the bag in the freezer.
If well stored this way, the leeks will remain fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to choose fresh leeks
The freshness of leeks from the grocery store will determine its shelf life especially if you are planning to buy in bulk. You want to pick leeks that will not start wrinkling and yellowing within a couple of days. Here is what to look for when shopping for fresh leeks:
- The stalk will be firm to touch and crisp free from bruises
- Go for leeks with dark green tops and avoid those with signs of yellowing.
- Fresh leeks will have light green leaves
- The stalk should be between 1-2 inches in diameter. The smaller the diameter the more tender and flavorful they are.
How to know when leeks are going bad
If left unattended, leeks can start showing signs of spoilage really fast. However, you can use the steps above to keep your leeks fresh and minimize spoilage immediately you bring them home.
Here is how to tell when leeks are going bad.
- The green parts may begin to yellow. You can trim off the yellowing parts and consume the remaining part as it is still safe to eat.
- They become slimy and mushy. Get rid of any leeks that get to that point as they can mess up the flavor of the entire dish.
- Smelly leeks. Dispose of immediately.