how to clean leeks

How to Clean Leeks

Fresh Leeks

I love to cook with leeks. They have an onion flavor, but with lovely sweetness. Leeks are a wonderful addition to soups, chowders and stews. They also can be fried for a crunchy garnish.

I get asked all the time about how to prep them. Leeks are full of sand and have to be prepped properly, so you don’t get any grit in your food. The edible part is the white and light green parts. The dark green leaves are tasty, but tough. They can be used for making stock.

To get started, peel off the first layer of leaves. There is often a lot of sand there. Cut off the bottom about 1/2 -inch from the root. You should be able to see the rings, or layers, of the leek when you do this. Trim off any dark green parts at the top. You’ll have a trimmed leek at this point.

Now you have to clean it. Cut the leek lengthwise in half. Hold one half at a time under running water while fanning the leaves to dislodge any dirt. Take the rinsed halves and cut them into 1/2-inch slices. You could also cut them into thin strips, if you like.

Place the slices in a large pan or bowl, filled with cold water, and agitate them to loosen any remaining sand. Use your fingers to separate the layers. Make sure the bowl is deep enough for the leeks to float, several inches from the bottom. The leeks will float and the sand and dirt will sink. Let them stand a  few minutes and then lift them out of the water to drain. Any grit will be at the bottom of the bowl.

If there is a lot of grit in the bottom of the bowl, you might want to repeat the rinsing process one more time. It might sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t take that much time and the leeks will be completely clean. I often buy a lot of leeks when they are on sale, and clean them all at once.Then I saute the cleaned leeks in oil, and freeze for later use.

Remove one or 2 outer layer of leaves

Remove one or 2 outer layer of leaves

Trim off bottom 1/2-inch above the root

Trim off bottom 1/2-inch above the root

Layers should be visible

Layers should be visible

Properly trimmed leeks

Properly trimmed leeks

Split leek lengthwise

Split leek lengthwise

Rinse under running water while fanning layers

Rinse under running water while fanning layers

Cut into 1/2-inch slices

Cut into 1/2-inch slices

Place in large container of cold water and separate the layers

Place in large container of cold water and separate the layers

Leeks float- dirt sinks

Leeks float- dirt sinks

Lift clean leeks out of the water

Lift clean leeks out of the water

Clean and ready for cooking

Clean and ready for cooking