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storing leeks

Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 30, 09 at 10:50

This has been our second year vegetable gardening. Last fall we added a few loads of composted straw to our clay oil. It made a huge difference. This year we had a good crop of potatoes, squash and leeks. We'll see what the brussel sprouts do. The peppers didn't do great but I think that is because we had mostly a cool, wet summer. My question is about leeks. We had a good crop of them this year, better than last year. What is the best way to store them? Can they be stored in sand like carrots? I tried freezing them last year but didn't care for the way they turned out. Thanks. Marg


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: storing leeks

I have not tried storing leeks. I make soup - potato leek is my favorite - and freeze. Or I slice the leeks and freeze. You said you didn't like how they turned out - why? I end up using them in soups and sauces so don't mind if they are mushy, are you doing something else? Others have said they dehydrate leeks successfully, I have not tried that.


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meant to add

Oh, and I meant to add that leeks along with other veggies from my garden make a great vegetable stock which I freeze.


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RE: storing leeks

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 30, 09 at 14:28

Did you blanch them before freezing them? I didn't and they were a little rubbery in texture. Maybe I'll make a stock instead. Can you can the stock instead of freezing it? Marg


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RE: storing leeks

you can keep them in the ground put straw leaves around them try keep them form freezing up too much when i lived in uk leeks was not a problum to keep in the ground untill needed but here in michigen its too cold i got the same problum first year with leeks so goign to try straw and leaves etc to try keep them in the ground as long as i can then freezing them


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RE: storing leeks

If it were me, I would chop them, saute them and then freeze them. I think they freeze better this way, and it makes it really easy to flavor a pot of food without having to saute before boiling or simmering.


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RE: storing leeks

There are two ways to do this - you can leave them in the ground, covered most the way up with straw, peat moss, or I use grass clippings. Make sure the soil is moist before adding all that.

Or, you can pull them, trim back the leaves, wash off the roots but leave them intact, and keep them in a big tub full of damp peat - I just use potting soil. That tub will need a half bucket of water now and again to stay moist.

The ones that over-winter in the garden start to 'come to life' in March, and taste just wonderful. I've intentionally left a hundred or so leeks in the ground, just for this reason.


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RE: storing leeks

I agree with David that leaving them in ground, well mulched works the best for any long term storage. But that is in our warmer climates. In Ontario I doubt you'd be able to get away with it due to ground freeze.

I linked a U. of Wisc. storage guide below (furtherest north info I could find ;) for you that might help as it has a couple of different suggestions and a good chart on storage times.

But they aren't a long term storage item in the fresh form. Preservation by either canning as several have suggested or freezing works best. And yes some form of cooking or blanching is needed for the best freezer results. It stops the enzymatic changes that make them rubbery when thawed.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: UW - How to Store Vegetables


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RE: storing leeks

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 30, 09 at 18:22

Thanks Dave. Sounds like freezing is my best option.


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RE: storing leeks

marric,

I am also in Zone 5 in Ontario and I leave leeks in the ground until early December or so.

It is very satisfying to me to go out to the garden in late NOvember or early December, and still be harvesting even up here in Canada!

The leeks aren't bothered by frost or even by several nights in a row to minus ten celsius or so. But once the ground is frozen solid and the garden under 2 feet of snow, of course, it gets a bit hard to harvest them, so I wouldn't leave them all winter.

I then usually pick any that are left, which isn't too many by then, and make a big batch of leek and potato soup and freeze that.

But if I have more (there is a good crop this year), I might try Dave's trick with the peat moss in my mudroom...

Good luck,

Z


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RE: storing leeks

Zabby, I'm glad to know that. I have leeks and they are about as big as a pencil, LOL, they did NOT like the weather here this year. We had temps in the 20s (farenheit) here and I didn't get the leeks out, so at least I can use them like green onions, I suppose...

Annie


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RE: storing leeks

Annie,

Mine are not as thick and huge as one might wish, but they're healthy. Maybe like a few pencils bundled together. ;-) I did plant them a bit too close; I had an idea I would thin them once the peas beside them were done, using some at a green-onion stage and leaving the rest to sprawl out into the cleaned-up pea bed. Of course I never remembered to thin the leeks OR clean up the pea bed (browning pea vines still sitting on their rustic wooden-clothes-dryer supports, which are a lot less charming when not laden with ripe peas...).

But leeks are my fave thing in the late season because when everything else is gone you are STILL HARVESTING!

I remember one year we had tonnes of snow and v. cold throughout December, but then a thaw in January sometime. I went out to the garden for something else, having forgotten all about the leeks, and was amazed to see them looking just fine. Picked the lot of 'em and they tasted fine, too!

Elliott Cole in that book about four-season gardening talked about at least one green (mache, maybe?) that he said he harvested all winter long even in zone 4/5, saying it was fine as long as you didn't actually pick it when it was frozen solid, but waited for a thaw.... I am fuzzy on the details. Time to go look at that book again for inspiration now that the summer is SO OVER!!!!!!!!

Z, from her laptop in front of the woodstove


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RE: storing leeks

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 1, 09 at 16:27

Zabby - glad to hear that you can keep them in the ground for at least part of the winter. We're going to try leaving some in the ground, covered with straw, and I'll try sauteing some and freezing them. See how those work. Where abouts are you located? I'm near Stayner/Angus. I start my leeks inside about Feb. and put them out around June. They are now a good size. I also read Eliot Coleman, in fact I just picked up his latest book 'The Winter Harvest Handbook' at Chapters. Great as far as I've gotten! (just picked it up yesterday.) Thanks! Marg


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RE: storing leeks

I think next year I'm going to buy leek PLANTS, and see if I can get a jump on the season that way.

Zabby, don't feel alone, I never thinned the leeks either, so that's probably why they are still so small. I'd rather blame the weather, that's not MY fault...

Annie


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RE: storing leeks

I buy leek PLANTS and they do work well. Mine are now too big, really. They are about the size of a big box of pencils :) I get them from Dixondale Farms, along with my onions.

Ann


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RE: storing leeks

Marg,

Let us know how it goes!

After growing up in Toronto, for the past 5 years I'm in Prince Edward County, south of Belleville. It's a little warmer than you (we're sort of on the 5b/6 border), but very snowy and very windy. (Also, I was interested to see when I moved, while we are a bit colder than Toronto, the season is actually a bit longer; it's a peninsula sticking into the lake, which presumably moderates the temp and puts off the frost a bit.)

Annie,

I've never started mine from seed, so I guess I should be embarrassed that mine aren't as thick as Ann's and Marg's! I can't blame the weather, as Marg's has been similar; I do think I put them too close together. No regrets, though, for using all the rest of that bed for PEAS as they were GREAT this year....

The first time I grew leeks was when I went to a seedling swap in the spring the first year after we moved out of the city. The pack o' leek seedlings (VERRY skinny, almost like the lead inside a mechanical pencil) was one of the last, unwanted things so I took it home.

I had a policy of not bothering with root vegetables, on the grounds that the quality difference with the grocery ones wasn't as great as things like tomatoes and lettuce and peas. But ever since that year I ALWAYS grow leeks --- one of the greenhouses nearby has little packs of seedlings in April with the pansies and early herbs and lettuces and I pick some up each year --- because they are SO EASY (when bought in spring, anyway) --- they don't compete with my 50 kinds of heirloom tomatoes for my labour (you can put 'em out before last frost and harvest 'em after first frost), require NO work once put in the ground, and, best of all, in November when the garden (and the world) is so sad and dark and dead and dreary looking, you can go and pick 'em and make something with freshly harvested garden produce!

Z, thinking about leek soup for tonight maybe....


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RE: storing leeks

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 2, 09 at 11:22

Z - I forgot to mention that when we planted them (we have clay soil), we dug a trench, laid the leek against one side of it, covered with compost and then some soil. I only put them about 4-6" apart. We did hill several times during the summer. Also before you plant them, give them a hair cut, cutting the green back by about half. I've never bought them but if the green part was to long, I would cut it back before planting also. Marg


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RE: storing leeks

I didn't get around to mulching mine yesterday, and last night it was down to 21F (-6 Canadian) and that didn't phase them at all.


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RE: storing leeks

I just stick 'em in holes in the soil. ;-)

THey are usually quite small and not too tall when I get them, but I will keep in mind to cut back the green if they are ever long....

I put them more like 2-3 inches apart, which I knew was too close. But as I said, I didn't have alot o room in that bed what with all the peas...

Z


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RE: storing leeks

Just a note on those pencil sized leeks. They are a real delicacy at that size. If you steam them and then cool immediately under cold water they make a delicious salad in vinaigrette. Google 'baby leeks' for a load of ideas.


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RE: storing leeks

Thanks, Flora, I'll check out that "baby leeks" recipe, mine are still out in the garden but I'm going to use them some way or another. I planted 'em and by gosh, I'm gonna eat them!

Zabby, leek and potato soup sounds really good, I've been out in the rain and cold all day fixing fence and hot soup would be just right. However, it's about midnight, so I'm going to take my heater and go to bed!

Maybe soup sometime later this week.

Annie


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RE: storing leeks

There you go, Annie. Your leeks aren't undersized, they're just GOURMET! ;-)

Z, who harvested a couple of her medium-gourmet leeks last night, first ones of the season
(the recipe said "one large leek" so I picked three);
served them sauteed in butter & spread over puff pastry with a little brie... mmm...


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RE: storing leeks

LOL, zabby, mine are "small gourmet" because it would take at least FIVE to be one large leek. (grin)

I don't care, I'm gonna eat them anyway.

Annie


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RE: storing leeks

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 1, 11 at 16:45

Well, I decided to freeze leeks the first year. This year we decided to leave them in the ground overwinter. So far we have had about 3' of snow and some very cold weather. Right now we are going thru a mild spell so I decided to dig up some leeks as well as the celeriac I had left in the ground. Surprisingly, both were very nice, the leeks were even larger than the ones we used last fall. The celeriac was also doing well, not a well as the leeks but still good. I made a very nice stew for supper. Next year I will try covering them with straw first to make digging them up easier. Marg


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