Leeks have been popular for thousands of years – they were cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians, regular on menus in the middle ages and have been the national symbol for Wales for at least 700 years.
Leeks are a member of the allium family along with onions, garlic and shallots, yet much easier to prepare! They have their own distinct flavour, which is rather like a mild onion, only sweeter. Usually eaten cooked, you can also eat leeks raw, particularly young leeks. The main edible part is the white stem – which is around two thirds of the length of the leek.
Slice, dice, enjoy whole or halved – then choose if you sauté, bake, steam or microwave – enjoy as a simple side dish, use instead of onions, or add to a host of dishes from soups to salads and casseroles, pasta or pies.
Leeks add not just flavour but colour and texture too. Thinly sliced leeks look and taste great in dishes as diverse as Braised Sausage in Gravy or Salmon and Leek Tatin. Add chopped leeks to fishcakes or use to make a tasty stuffing.
Leeks are one of the most versatile vegetables you can buy – and one of the simplest to prepare – so for lots of tasty ways with leeks visit our recipe page.
Just half a leek counts as one of your five a day and contains a host of nutrients that play an important part of a healthy balanced diet.
Leeks are also a source of the B vitamin folate which is needed for the production of red blood cells and the release of energy from food. Folate is also important during pregnancy and is important for a healthy immune system
They are a source of vitamin C, an antioxidant which helps to protect cells in the body and keep them healthy, and contain vitamin K which is needed for blood clotting and so helps wounds to heal. Oh and they're low in calories too – just 27 per 100g.
The start of the leek growing season is from Mid-March, when we plant both seeds and young plants. This ensures a continuous supply of leeks – as it takes up to 20 weeks for leeks to grow and be ready for harvesting – which begins in September.
We don’t though start planting until the soil has warmed up a little after the winter, as ideally the soil needs to be both warm and damp, to give the leeks the best chance to grow nice and strong.
We use GPS on our tractors to ensure the leeks are grown in perfectly straight lines and it also helps monitor the quality of the soil, a vital part of the process. The leeks are planted by hand, but the harvesting is done using a rig that is 35 metres wide and weighs 40 tonnes.