Leeks have been revered for thousands of years they are thought to be native to Central Asia but have been cultivated in Europe for thousands of years. Both Greeks and Romans used leeks to strengthen their voice. Supposedly both Greek philosopher Aristotle and Roman Emperor Nero ate leeks every day for this purpose. It is thought that the Romans brought leeks to Great Britain where the cool weather allowed them to thrive. The Welsh placed leeks in their hats to be able to recognize each other during battles with the Saxons.
Leeks prefer a mild climate. The require very rich soil to grow. Never let the soil get completely dry. Sow seeds directly into the ground in early spring or in mild climates sow seeds in August-September. Leeks are slow growing and can take up to seven months to mature from seeds. As leeks grow mound the soil up around the stalks to keep the bottoms white but try not to get the soil into the base of the leaves. In cold wintery climates leeks should be harvested in late autumn when stems are 1/2 inch to 2 inches in diameter. In milder climates leeks harvest as needed from late fall to early spring by carefully lifting them out with a garden fork.
Cooking with Leeks
Leeks have a delicate, sweeter and more sophisticated flavor than garlic, onion, and shallots. They blend wonderfully with many foods. Here are some amazing recipes showcasing this very versatile vegetable.
- Vitamins A, B6, C, and K.
- Leeks are naturally high in sodium so try not to add salt or salty foods when cooking them.