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How To Store Leeks

You come home with a couple of fresh leeks, and then it hits you: how to store leeks?

Should you put them in the fridge, or can leeks be stored at room temperature?

Do you need to wrap them, or can you just toss them in as-is?

If that’s you, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • storing leeks so that they last as long as possible
  • how long leeks actually last
  • figuring out if your leeks are okay to eat, or should you toss them

If any of these topics interests you, read on.

Whole leek
Whole leek

How To Store Leeks

Keep leeks in the fridge, wrapped in plastic. This way, they can last for up to two weeks if you bought them fresh. That’s the gist of it.

If your leeks don’t have the green leaves trimmed to about two inches, do that before placing them in the fridge (don’t cut them off altogether!). Otherwise, it might be difficult to fit them in there.

If you want them to retain the best quality for the longest period possible, consider wrapping the veggie in a moist paper towel before putting in a bag.

Parboiled cut leek
Parboiled cut leek

What about storing leeks at room temperature?

If you plan on using your leeks within two to three days of buying, letting them sit in the pantry or a kitchen cupboard is okay. You might need to strip an extra layer or cut them a bit shorter, but that’s about it.

Since my fridge is usually packed, I often store fresh leeks in a kitchen cupboard and am pretty happy about the results. Just remember that you need to have a plan for the veggie when you buy it.

Leek layers
Leek layers

Do you need to keep leeks wrapped?

Leeks often have a particular smell that you probably don’t want to be absorbed by other foods in the fridge ([MF]). If you don’t mind it, skip the wrapping.

Do not wash leeks before storing ([MF]).

When it comes to cut or cooked leeks, keep them in the fridge in an airtight container. The same applies to any salads with leeks.

Leek salad
Leek salad

How Long Do Leeks Last?

Fresh leeks can last for up to two weeks if stored in the fridge and wrapped, and three to four days at room temperature. You should use cooked leeks within two days.

While leeks are related to onions and garlic, they don’t form bulbs and don’t last nearly as long.

Please remember that the time the veggie retains quality depends on the following:

  • how long it sat in the produce section in the supermarket or when it was harvested
  • how you store it – does it sit in the fridge or not, is it wrapped in a moist paper towel, and the like

If you’ve bought an old leek with yellowing, dry, and coarse outer leaves, it will last only a few days until it starts to rot or mushy, no matter how well you care for it.

Cut leeks on a cutting board
Cut leeks on a cutting board

How To Tell If Leeks Are Bad?

Discard leeks that:

  • Have large areas of mold or rot. Small areas are okay to cut out (plus some extra), but if like a fourth of the veggie is spoiled, it’s time for it to go.
  • Are mushy or slimy. Leeks lose water over time, and at a certain point, the quality is too low to use them.
  • Smell off or stale. If a veggie smells off, it’s no good. I’m pretty sure you know that already.
Leek: coarse outer layer leaf
Leek: coarse outer layer leaf

Please note that I didn’t put yellow or coarse leaves or outer layers in the list above.

That’s because they’re merely a sign that the leek is quite old, and you can cut them off or remove that layer entirely. And the rest of the veggie is okay to eat, assuming that there aren’t any other issues like it’s mushy or started to rot.

Cut leeks closeup
Cut leeks closeup

When it comes to cooked or cut leek, discard them if:

  • There’s mold in the container. If you get to the point the leek starts to grow mold, it’s time to cut your losses.
  • The leek(s) sit in the fridge for more than four days. Leeks retain quality only for a short period, and at that point, it’s safer to let go of them.

As usual, if you’re not entirely sure your leeks are safe to eat, discard them. Better safe than sorry.

Leek, carrots, and apple salad
Leek, carrots, and apple salad

Summary

  • Fresh leeks last for up to two weeks in the fridge wrapped in plastic or in a plastic bag. Or about three to four days at room temperature.
  • Cooked or cut leeks keep only for a few days in the fridge, in an airtight container.
  • The leaves go yellow, and the outer layers go coarse over time. You can cut off the former and remove the latter. The shank underneath should be perfectly safe to eat.

References