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Produce Facts: Leeks

Feb 05, 2016
leeks fresh produceThe leek is a vegetable with a mild onion flavor, and the edible part of the plant is the stalk.

Leeks grow deeper in the soil than onions, and their roots are more active and matted at the time of harvest than the onion. Leeks are harvested 5-6 months after planting by pulling them whole from the ground.

Like their cousins the onions, leeks have some sulphur compounds that scientists believe reduce your risk of some health problems.

When sliced or chopped, the antioxidants in leeks begin converting to allicin. Allicin provides anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities, and reduces cholesterol by impeding harmful enzymes in liver cells. Leeks are also high in vitamins A and K.

Leeks are the national emblem of Wales, worn along with the daffodil. The Welsh love them so much that they wear them as a badge on St. David’s Day. (David is the patron saint of Wales.)

The Roman Emperor Nero used to eat leeks to improve his singing voice.

Important Facts

  • Store from 32-36° F.
  • Select leeks with clean, crisp, white bottoms and fresh-looking tops. Small to medium-size leeks are the most tender and have a mild, delicate flavor.
  • Keep moist and cold; using water and ice are okay. 
  • Keep away from ethylene-producing items.
  • To prepare, cut the white part of the leek at one end and the dark green ends at the other. 

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