How to Clean Leeks

Consider the leek. It’s majestic, a titan in the onion family. Mostly just the white and light green parts are eaten, though the darker green parts have plenty of flavor and can either be cooked longer to tenderize them, or used when making homemade soup stock. The challenge when cooking with leeks is that they are almost always dirty. When leeks are grown, soil is piled up around them, so that more of the leek is hidden from the sun, and therefore lighter in color and more tender. What produces a beautiful leek, a long pale body, also results in sand and dirt been lodged deep inside the leek.

There are basically two ways to clean leeks, the method you use depends upon how you are going to use the leeks in cooking. The easiest way is to prepare them chopped for use in soup. A little more challenging is preparing a leek for use in a recipe that requires whole leeks. Both methods are detailed here.

How to Clean Leeks by Simply Recipes

How to Clean Leeks

Choose leeks that are about an inch thick, and have a long white to pale green shaft. The pale parts are the most useable.

Ingredients

  • Fresh leeks

Method

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Before getting started with either method, rinse the leeks under water to remove visible dirt or sand.

Preparing leeks for soup

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1 Cut off the roots of the leeks. Slice the leeks lengthwise. Decide how much of the leek greens you want to use. They are tougher and can be stronger tasting, but soften with long cooking. The last couple of inches of the dark green ends should probably be discarded or saved for making stock. (I put mine in a plastic bag and drop it in the freezer.) Make crosswise cuts along the leek that you intend to use.

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2 Place the chopped leeks into a bowl and fill with cold water. (If the leeks are especially dirty, rinse them first in a colander, before covering with water.) Use your hands to agitate the leeks and dislodge any dirt or sand that may be clinging to them. Scoop the leeks out of the water with a sieve or slotted spoon and place in a new bowl.

 

Cleaning and Prepping Whole Leeks

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1 Place leek on a cutting board. Insert the tip of a sharp knife about a 1/4-inch below the lowest opening in the leek. Cut straight through, up to and through the green ends of the leek, leaving the pale part of the leek whole.

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2 Fan open the leek and place under cold running water. Rinse out any dirt or sand. If the leek is especially dirty, you may want to make another similar cut through the leek to further be able to fan the leek open.

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3 Cut off the dark green tops of the leek, reserving on the body of the leek as much of the dark green as you want. We like the taste (it's basically just a big onion green), so we typically keep about 2 to 3 inches or so of the dark green part with the body of the leeks. Discard the dark greens or save them to flavor soups or stews, or use for making stock.

4 Cut of the root end of the leeks, staying as close to the roots as possible. Cutting close to the roots will help keep the leeks whole when cooking them whole.

Links:

How to grow leeks by VegetableGardener.com

How to prepare leeks by David Lebovitz

 

How to Clean Leeks by Simply Recipes

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17 Comments

    • mantha

      Lots of people eat leeks. I think more people eat them in soup, so the ways to prepare whole leeks aren’t as well known. But they are delicious and make a delicate flavored soup with lots of iron and minerals for you.

    • Rene

      1. Those who know the nutritional value of Leek
      2. Those who like the taste and texture of Leek.

      I hope this answers your question

  1. Je Ae

    I had no idea that that was why my leeks were always so dirty. I always got mad, thinking I just picked an unusually dirty leek. lol Very useful information, thanks!

  2. Rose

    I read in one of the Roux brothers cookbooks that leeks can be cleaned by placing them in warm water – the grit sinks in warmer water. It works!

  3. TasteofBeirut

    I was taught how to clean leeks in France where leeks are used a lot in cooking; add a teaspoon of vinegar to the soaking water, wiggle them a bit (after fanning them) and voilà! great tutorial btw.

  4. Gale

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! I love having good pictures along with the instructions. I seldom use leeks, so when I got the urge to grab them, I had no idea what to do with them. They ended up in vegetable and ham soup, and the scraps went to a vegetable broth (thanks to bloggers and tutorials).

  5. Sandy

    I grow my own leeks, and this is my favourite recipe for the green parts. Slice the greens into one inch pieces and toss in a little oil. Spread them out on a tray in a very hot oven, preferably with a grill element above. Roast for about 10 mins BUT watch like a hawk when they begin to dry out and go brown round the edges; they can burn very quickly. They’ll go sweet and crispy, like Chinese style crispy seaweed but with a strong rich onion flavour. Serve hot sprinkled over any dish, or sprinkle over a little salt and just munch them up out of the pan. Irresistable!

  6. Annie

    Loved leeks in any kind of soup. My grandson and his buddy can’t quit eating the chicken noodle soup I made.
    I also dry them, wrap in paper towel and freeze.

  7. From Australia

    First time I have ever cooked leeks (a male) and your tips have been invaluable, thanks Elise!

    The people commenting have also been helpful, thanks to all.

    Am living on my own, studying at uni and enjoying experimenting with different fruit and veges.

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