Can You Freeze Leeks? Best Ways To Preserve Them

Like garlic, scallions, and shallots, leeks are a variety of onions in the allium family. They have a milder flavor than other onions. They can be used in soups, stews, and salads. Vitamins A, C, and K are abundant in leeks, which can be either raw or cooked. Can they be preserved to extend shelf life?

Did you know that a leek is embossed on the British one-pound coin of 1985 and 1990? Leeks are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals that are said to be able to reduce obesity and can fight cancer.

In this article, we look at methods of how to store leeks to extend their shelf life. We answer many frequently asked questions, providing factual information to extend your culinary horizons.

Let’s dig deep into leeks.

Do leeks expire?

They do. But when compared with other garden vegetables, they are pretty hardy and can last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

If you have fresh leeks from the garden or farmers market, complete with roots and a little soil hanging on, they can be stirred in a cool pantry for 3 to 5 days before they will start to wilt.

Place the leeks in a plastic bag, which can be stored in the fridge for two weeks.

Leeks can be pickled. For the culinary experts, it’s typically wild leeks that are pickled, called ramps, but ordinary garden leaks pickles equally as well, and who doesn’t enjoy a pickled onion?

To pickle leeks is an easy process. You will need the following:

  • Leeks
  • Vinegar ( White vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Spices (optional)

You must remove the gritty debris and insects from the leak by washing thoroughly. Trim the root end and slice it into two-inch pieces, and place it in a suitable jar that has been sterilized.

Of course, the beautiful leek can be frozen but more on that later. 

Do leeks need to be refrigerated?

No leeks have a decent shelf life if they are fresh, can be stored in a pantry or cool area of the kitchen for 3 to 5 days, and will retain their crispy texture. 

If you wish to get the most from your leaks and extend the shelf life, they must be placed in the refrigerator.

The leeks don’t need to be cleaned before placing them in the refrigerator, but they will have a strong odor of onion, so they should be placed in a plastic bag to contain the odor.

Stored this way, the leeks will last for approximately two weeks.

If you buy leeks regularly, you will know that they come in all shapes and sizes, including length. Some leeks may be too long to store in the fridge, so chop them down to size but trim back the greenery, it is often not edible, so it can be discarded to create more room in the fridge.

If you have leftover cooked leeks, you can store them in an airtight container. They will last for 3 to 4 days when stored at 40℉.

Do leeks need to be covered? 

If you are storing leeks in the pantry, they don’t need to be covered, but you will have a slight odor of onion in the pantry that may encroach into the kitchen.

It is advisable to cover leeks when they are stirred in the fridge. The fridge is a small area, and the odor build-up could taint the more delicate foods that are stored in the fridge, such as milk, cheese, and cooked meats.

Wrapping the leeks in a plastic bag will suffice to control the odor in the fridge or pantry.

Can you put warm leeks in the fridge?

No. Placing warm food in the fridge is potentially dangerous.

You should always avoid placing hot food or warm food in the fridge. It’s bad housekeeping. Placing warm leeks in the fridge could cause a bigger problem than you might have imagined.

Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing warm leeks in the fridge will elevate its temperature while it radiates heat.

Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It’s not just your leeks. It is the contents of the entire fridge.

Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.

Seems harsh? According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.

Furthermore, the leeks should be covered in the fridge so there will be no condensation.

How long can warm-cooked leeks sit out?

Two hours.

Time can pass quickly when sitting around the dining table discussing the upcoming holidays and what has been happening during the week. But if you have leftover leeks, they will become contaminated with bacteria and, after just two hours, could make you sick if eaten. 

Remember the food danger zone? According to the USDA, perishable goods sitting out for two hours should be discarded, and the bacteria growth on the food has multiplied rapidly, making the food unfit for consumption.

How long do leeks last in the fridge?

If you have whole leeks that have been trimmed to size and stored in a plastic bag to contain the odor, they will last for two weeks; stored this way, give a day or two.

If you have cleaned your leeks and prepared them for cooking, say by chopping and dicing them, the shelf life will be shortened to 3 to 5 days.

Cooked leeks have a short shelf life of 3 to 5 days if stirred in an airtight container.

Unopened pickled leeks will last a year and more stirred in the fridge.

Do frozen leeks go bad?

According to the scientists at the USDA, frozen foods at 0℉ or below should have an indefinite shelf life. But many foods cannot stand up to the rigors of long-term freezing and deteriorate significantly, losing texture and flavor.

However, leeks do freeze well. Leeks, like most vegetables, have a high water content, so they freeze quickly, but the water content will change the texture of the leeks after freezing. Once crystals grow in the cell structures of the leek, the leek will lose its texture and crispy bite, but for cooking, it is perfect.

There are two methods of freezing leeks: flash freezing and blanching. Let’s get into how it’s done.

Flash freezing leeks

  • Clean the leeks thoroughly, removing sand and grit from the inner of the vegetable. Chop away most of the green leaves. They are tough and not edible.
  • Cut the leek into one or two-inch pieces separating the leeks. Leave the leek in a colander to drip dry if you have a salad spinner use the spinner to remove the excess water.
  • Place the leeks onto a paper towel and pat dry the excess water.
  • Cover a clean tray with parchment paper.
  • Place the leak evenly across the tray, ready for flash freezing. Leave spaces between pieces of the leek so it will separate when frozen.
  • Place the tray in the freezer for approximately 90 minutes.
  • When the leak is frozen, remove the tray.
  • Place the pieces of leek into a freezer bag, remove the air, and seal it tightly.
  • Mark the freezing bag with the contents and the freezing date, and place the bag in the freezer.

Using this freezing method, the leeks will stay frozen for  7 to10 months.

Freezing balanced leeks

  • As previously, clean the leeks so they are free from soil and insects.
  • Chop the leeks into cooking-size pieces.
  • Blanch the leeks in a pot of boiling water for thirty seconds.
  • Drain the leeks into a colander and immerse the leeks into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. This action needs to be done swiftly.
  • After 5 minutes, and when the leeks are cold, place the leeks into the colander and drain. Let the leeks drip dry for thirty minutes.
  • Place the pieces of leek into a freezer bag, remove the air, and seal it tightly.
  • Mark the freezing bag with the contents and the freezing date, and place the bag in the freezer.

Using this freezing method, the leeks will remain in good condition for 10 months in the freezer.

Freezing cooked leeks

  • Place the cooked leeks into a freezer-safe bag.
  • Expel as much air as possible from the freezer bag and seal it tight.
  • Place the freezer bag inside an airtight container (optional). This will help to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label the airtight container with the contents and the freezing date and place it in the freezer.

Cooked leeks will last for 2 months in the freezer.

Final thoughts

Leeks are versatile vegetables full of vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy choice at any dinner table. But when it comes to storing leeks, they are hardy vegetables and will last in the fridge for a couple of weeks and in the freezer for up to 10 months.

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