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Leeks

c
carol1945 Dec 23, 2013 06:39 AM

Okay, I don't get about leeks. If you use only the white part as recipes tell you, well, you only have about one inch of leek. And the white starts melding into the green so how far down into the green can you go? Like when it is partly white and green, is that okay? I get lots of leeks from my CSA and when I use them, I can never decide how far down I should go. I noticed that parts of my soup or braise is tough, little fibrous bits that stick in your teeth. I get it that the green part is tougher and should be chopped finer. But my basic question is this: the green melds into the white, so how far down should you go?

  1. Will Owen Dec 27, 2013 05:47 PM

    I used to go into the pale-green part only until the day I had an amazingly good and simple Northern Chinese dish of fat noodles dressed with dark leek greens and beef, all cut up fairly large and meltingly tender, with some sort of rich, mellow sauce. I'll still throw the upper half out into the compost area by the back fence, but the rest stays inside.

    1. c
      carol1945 Dec 26, 2013 07:26 AM

      Oh, I had no idea leeks could have as much as ten inches of white part. Even in the produce market, I have never seen them with that much. It must be related to weather, my leeks come from Northern California.

      2 Replies
      1. re: carol1945
        e
        Eldon Kreider Dec 26, 2013 04:30 PM

        Growing leeks with a long white portion requires proper technique and is a LOT more work for the grower.

        Much of Northern California has better weather for growing leeks than does northern Illinois. Lazy farmers with undemanding customers are everywhere. I have seen quite a range of white parts in produce markets including different dates for the same market.

        1. re: carol1945
          chefj Dec 27, 2013 04:49 PM

          I get great Leeks here in N.Cal. Also keep your eyes out for Japanese Leeks (Negi/葱) They often have lots of blanch.
          Also good Technique will give you better yield on your Leeks.
          Here is J.Pepin method(starts around 4:33). I actually use a bit less of the green than he does but you will get the idea
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc2kgh...

        2. paulj Dec 25, 2013 09:10 AM

          "As the leeks grow, hill them up. Pile an inch or so around each plant every few weeks to blanch the shaft."
          http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item...

          If your leeks have a short white part, it's because they haven't been hilled enough. When I buy leeks I look for ones with a substantial length of white. 8-10" worth of white is about the best I find.

          I slice the white thin (cross wise) to minimize the fiber length. Tougher green leaves are used in stock.

          I'm guessing that older, larger diameter leeks are more fibrous, but haven't bought enough to confirm that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj
            e
            Eldon Kreider Dec 25, 2013 04:21 PM

            I used to grow leeks when I had a larger garden. Leeks are supposed to be planted in a 4-6 inch deep furrow. Every 10 days to 2 weeks fill in an inch or so of soil. Continue until the soil is mounded 4-6 inches high. For late fall/early winter leeks add several inches of mulch before the ground is too cold. In northern Illinois leeks treated this way can be dug into December. Getting more than 10 inches of white is tricky. Note that this applies to full size leeks, not bunching leeks, which mature in 70 days or so and are much smaller.

            If a CSA is producing leeks with only an inch of white, they are either ignorant or indifferent to proper growing technique.

            Older, larger diameter leeks that I have grown are not more fibrous. Indeed, central parts have a degree of self blanching. Cultivar choice may impact fibrousness, though.

          2. c
            carol1945 Dec 25, 2013 08:29 AM

            Thanks to everyone who replied. I think I figured it out. I have used leeks my entire life (potato and leek soup, braised leeks, etc) and never had a problem with some of the slices being tough. I have always gone into the green part as far as I could. What could have changed? But maybe this time of year they are more woody, or maybe the grower is using a different type of leek, growing conditions are different, or maybe, maybe. I am sure there as many variables in leek physiology as their are in my own!!!

            1. LMAshton Dec 24, 2013 06:55 PM

              I don't get the whole thing about not using the green part of the leeks. I always do.

              I'll cut off the tip of the greens, then for most dishes, I slices the leeks quite finely. Leeks usually go into curries with coconut milk, chilli powder, turmeric, salt, curry leaves, onion, and garlic or in a soup. But curried is the most common way we eat them.

              1. t
                Ttrockwood Dec 23, 2013 03:07 PM

                We had a ton of leeks due to grocery store overshopping and i made these the other night- stupid easy and a surprising side veggie:
                http://orangette.blogspot.com/2010/09...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ttrockwood
                  k
                  kariin Dec 27, 2013 06:33 AM

                  oh this brought back a happy memory. visiting my friends in Manhatten, they worked in tv, no time to cook. I made dinner every night I was there. Chicken w/40 cloves of garlic and braised leeks in vinagrette, salad and an apple tart.
                  thanks for reminding me - i'm getting some leeks today.

                2. e
                  escondido123 Dec 23, 2013 02:03 PM

                  I use up through the yellow/pale green. I thrown the rest in a freezer bag and use it when I make chicken stock.

                  1. j
                    janniecooks Dec 23, 2013 10:37 AM

                    This time of year, the central core of leeks, even in the white part, tends to be woody. That may be the source of the fibrous bits.

                    1. g
                      gourmanda Dec 23, 2013 07:27 AM

                      I use well up into the dark green leaves for most dishes, though I do peel the outer one or two leaves. The darker part gets sauteed first, then I add the lighter part...never had a problem with fibrous bits sticking in my teeth.

                      1. mels Dec 23, 2013 07:21 AM

                        I use up into the lighter green. I can usually distinctly see where the lighter green transitions to that leathery/fibrous texture in the darker green zone, which will never soften up.

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