Leek — A strong leek

Leeks are prob­a­bly bet­ter known to most peo­ple as leeks. But many also think that leeks and leeks are two dif­fer­ent veg­eta­bles. The fact is, this veg­etable sim­ply has two dif­fer­ent names. Leek is very ver­sa­tile. It can be used in casseroles, for exam­ple, but it is just as deli­cious in a soup or in an omelet. Not only can it be served with var­i­ous dish­es, it is also very healthy. Thus, the leek was once even con­sid­ered a med­i­c­i­nal plant.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of leeks

The leek is relat­ed to gar­lic and wild gar­lic and belongs, like the onion to the daf­fodil fam­i­ly. It has been around for more than 4,000 years and orig­i­nat­ed in the west­ern Mediter­ranean. It is said that the Egypt­ian slaves ate it dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the pyra­mids. Emper­or Nero also ate a lot of leeks because he was con­vinced that it improved his singing voice. Leeks found their way to us in the Mid­dle Ages.

In terms of taste, the leek is sim­i­lar to the onion. How­ev­er, the root veg­etable is much milder than the onion. The veg­etable can reach a size of up to 80 cm. Instead of an onion, the leek has green leaves, which grow fan-like from the white shaft. 

The veg­etable is in sea­son all year round. How­ev­er, a dis­tinc­tion is made between sum­mer and win­ter leeks. The main dif­fer­ence here is the taste. While the sum­mer leek tastes rather mild, the win­ter leek is par­tic­u­lar­ly intense in flavor.

The ingre­di­ents of leeks

Here it should actu­al­ly be, what is not con­tained in leeks? The veg­etable has end­less healthy ingre­di­ents, such as vit­a­mins, min­er­als, trace ele­ments as well as sec­ondary plant com­pounds. In addi­tion, leeks are very low in calo­ries and yet have a lot of fiber. On 100 g leeks come just 30 kcal. 

The main ingre­di­ents in leeks are: Inulin, vit­a­min C and K, beta-carotene, iron, potas­si­um, cal­ci­um, mag­ne­sium, man­ganese and allicin.

The effect of leeks on our body

Leek has a very ben­e­fi­cial effect on our body. It is a slim­ming agent, has an antibi­ot­ic effect, stim­u­lates our immune sys­tem, sup­ports our diges­tion, has a pos­i­tive effect on our car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem, is healthy for bones and teeth, it puri­fies and sup­ports our kidneys.

How­ev­er, there is an addi­tion­al pos­i­tive effect that hard­ly any­one would have expect­ed: leeks can lift our mood. But why is that so? That have to owe the ingre­di­ent man­ganese and the vit­a­min B1 and B6. Man­ganese helps the body to use vit­a­min B bet­ter. And vit­a­min B is good for our nerves. This means that our mood is lift­ed and stress and depres­sion are prevented.

Leeks in the kitchen

As already men­tioned, leek is ver­sa­tile. Cooked, it is most­ly used in com­bi­na­tion with onion, car­rot, cel­ery and pars­ley as soup veg­eta­bles. As a side dish, the root veg­etable tastes good with meat and fish. For this pur­pose, it is sim­ply sautéed or steamed. Cut into fine rings, it is the icing on piz­za or quiche or in a casse­role. Raw, it can be used to refine sal­ads, sauces and dressings.

In short, you can use leeks boiled, steamed, braised, blanched and briefly fried, raw, as a gar­nish, to enhance or as the main ingredient.

But before you can process leeks at all, you need to prop­er­ly clean them, because between the leaves and lay­ers accu­mu­late sand and soil. There­fore, you need to clean it thor­ough­ly under run­ning water. The eas­i­est way to do this is to first remove the out­er­most (unsight­ly) lay­er and cut off the tops. Then cut the leek length­wise. In this way, each indi­vid­ual lay­er can be rinsed clean.

ATTENTION! Many cut away the entire green leaves and throw them in the trash. This is a great pity, because you can also use the leaves just like the stem. The leaves can be used up to 15 cen­time­ters above the white shaft.

Buy­ing and stor­ing leeks

Only a fresh leek tastes good. There­fore, when buy­ing, you should make sure that the leaves are not wilt­ed and have a strong green col­or. If the leaves look blotchy or yel­low­ish, it is a sign that the leek is no longer fresh. The stem, or shank, should also look crisp and juicy and it should not show any tears or dam­age. The root hairs should still be white. Brown root hairs are also a sign that the leek is no longer fresh.

It is best to store the leeks in the veg­etable com­part­ment of the refrig­er­a­tor. How­ev­er, you should wrap it in a bag or foil before­hand. Not only will it stay fresh longer, but it will also pre­vent the leeks from giv­ing off their intense odor and fla­vor to oth­er foods. In the refrig­er­a­tor, the veg­eta­bles will keep between five and sev­en days.

How­ev­er, leeks can also be frozen well. To do this, sim­ply clean the veg­etable already and cut into rings or cubes and blanch. This way you can take it direct­ly out of the freez­er and pre­pare it, because leeks should not be defrost­ed, but processed frozen. In the freez­er, the veg­eta­bles will keep for a min­i­mum of three months.

How about a deli­cious leek dish? The AOK has the per­fect recipes for you:

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