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Leeks [Moved from Home Cooking board]

Just watched that little Norwegian cooking show on Public TV and something struck me. He made leek and potato soup and he chopped a whole leek without cleaning it - there was no soil in between the layers. I remember growing up in Scotland we always had leeks in soup and never had to clean them other than removing any rough-looking outer layers.
So are there different types of leek - some which hold onto soil and some which don't?

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  1. Cooking shows often do not show the pre-prep. Any leek I have ever met in the US needs to be rinsed to remove the grit. Generally this is done by slicing in half lenthwise and rinsing in water. Then slice into half-circles and rinse again.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Springhaze2

      Cooking shows that leave out things like this drive me nuts. BUT, I do recall something about leeks that do not need to be cleaned. Is there some other way they can be grown (hydropinically?) or am I just hallucinating?

      1. re: bnemes3343

        I've certainly had leeks that didn't need much if any cleaning.

    2. I think they're cultivating more and more leeks to be dirt-free -- or as free from dirt as possible. I've worked with a lot of leeks that didn't require more than just a quick rinsing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Miss Needle

        No this was not edited - he cut them - they were clean, and he popped them straight into the pot not even a quick rinse - I'm sure some European readers must be scratching their heads about this - all we ever did was a basic trim of both ends and the outer leaves. I'm pretty sure the leeks I used to eat back home were not grown hyroponically - I doubt they had even heard of that back then.

      2. I always clean my leeks as a precaution but I have never seen dirt in one and I prepare them quite often.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ms. clicquot

          Ok, so I'm really hoping someone will solve this myster with science. I am also fairly certain that I have used many, many leeks that were entirely dirt free. But, Jacque Pepin would probably smack me for using a leek without first cleaning it. So, where is the truth in this. Alton Brown, we need you now!

          1. re: bnemes3343

            I've seen an episode of "Good Eats" devoted entirely to leeks. Alton, I believe, sliced the leeks into 3-inch long sections and halved those longwise, then let the "semi-cylinders" soak in cold water. The idea was for the layers to loosen up and any grit/sand/dirt hiding within to float out and sink to the bottom.

            1. re: bnemes3343

              I did some googling to see what I could find but pretty much everything says to wash them carefully. However, there are many different types of leeks so maybe some have tighter leaves and the dirt can't get in as easily? There was also advice to gardeners about being careful when mounding the soil around them to avoid getting too much grit inside the leaves so maybe farming practices make a difference. Or maybe some of us just get lucky with our clean leeks. Any leek experts out there have any thoughts?

          2. I buy leeks all the time- and always buy them from the same farm. SOmetimes they are full of grit, and other times they are perfectly clean. But I always slice and rinse in water, as Springhaze2 does.

            1. Leeks almost never have dirt anywhere except at the looser portion at the top. If all you cut is the bottom half, where it is white and tightly closed, you probably would not need to wash.

              It is also quite likely that the leek got some washing between the field and the TV studio, probably twice - once on the farm and once before the TV show started. It is even possible that the whole leek was submerged and soaked to get dirt out as much as is possible without cuttting it up.

              But yeah, sometime they do not need a lot of washing and sometimes they do. I don't think it is so much an issue of the "type" of leek as it is about the farm, the famer, and the weather when it is grown.

              1 Reply
              1. re: andytee

                The leeks I grow are clean. I have bought gritty ones, but they seem to have gotten cleaner over the years. I expect the soil type is a factor--sandier soil = gritty leeks. Most gardening books say to plant in a trench and fill in. I'm too lazy and mostly use a hay mulch. Don't get spectacular length but quite good enough. That's probably another factor. Lots of vegetables seem to be washed better now, like potatoes.

              2. They used to always be full of mud. Now I rarely find any grit, but still rinse out of habit & "just in case".

                1. I've noticed that some of the leeks I use are quite clean (probably don't need to be rinsed) and others are dirtier than a kindergarten class in a sandbox. I figure it's all about growing conditions. As for the OP, it's entirely possible that the soup on the cooking program wasn't meant for eating (that is, strictly for show), anyway, so no sense in spending the time to rinse them...!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ricepad

                    and nothing yukkier than crunching gritty leeks. I always slice them down one side open up and wash.

                    1. re: smartie

                      BEST ADVICE. i mean - why not just open it up and rinse them. the leeks i buy always have dirt - and so i always wash each layer. it doens't take too long and it's better than that horible sand/dirt feeling in the teeth when eating something!

                  2. Everything else aside, with a couple of very notable exceptions, you can't take what you "see" on cooking shows as any sort of guide - there's the infamous Emeril episode for example, where he rolls up a jelly roll with the parchment still attached... Probably not intended to demontrate that parchment paper is edible let alone delectable. lolmao I rarely get "filthy" leeks but I have yet to see one I wasn't glad I was rinsing off, either, there's always something in there somewhere. As for hydroponics, there's slim to no chance that leeks and other root crops are grown that way commercially, if it's even feasible theoretically.