Can you freeze leeks? While leaks are available all year long, there are times where you might want to freeze those veggies. Maybe there’s a huge sale at the grocery store and you want to stock up. Or you grow your own leeks and would prefer to store some of them for later. Either way, freezing leeks seem like a good way to preserve them, right?
Can You Freeze Leeks?
As with pretty much every vegetable, you can freeze leeks. The real question is if it makes sense and if you will like the results that you get.
Like with other veggies, especially those with high water content like leeks, freezing changes the texture of leeks. In short, leeks after thawing will turn soggy. So there’s no clear answer to the can you freeze leeks? question. It all depends on how you plan to use the veggie.
Image used under Creative Commons from THOR
If the texture is important for the dish you’re planning to prepare, freezing leeks won’t work out well. That means freezing leeks for a salad doesn’t make sense. But if those leeks will be part of a cooked dish, like a casserole or a stew, things change. In cooked dishes the texture of veggies usually doesn’t matter that much because it will change in the cooking process either way. So you likely won’t notice much difference between a stew with fresh leeks and one with frozen leeks.
Now that you know when it makes sense to freeze leeks, let’s go through the freezing process.
How to Freeze Leeks?
Let’s start with selection. As is the case with pretty much all other veggies, select the highest quality ones for freezing. If it’s starting to wilt or is heavily bruised, use it as soon as you can instead of freezing. Yes, that means you should freeze leeks as soon as possible, not after keeping them in the fridge for two weeks with no idea how to use them. Choose leeks that have dark green leaves and firm but pliable stalks. The stem and bulb should be white. Overall, the leeks should look crispy and fresh, not bruised, discolored or funky-looking.
Before you freeze leeks, you have to clean each stalk thoroughly. Remove anything that might be stuck between the leaves.
Now it’s time to prepare them for packaging. Consider how you will use those leeks and decide if they should be sliced or chopped. Basically, you want them to be ready for to the dish they are going into.
Now the veggies are ready to be blanched. This step is optional, though recommended. You can always test out how leeks turn out without blanching and decide if it’s worth the hassle. Blanching is really simple. First, bring a pot of water to a boil. Then toss cut leeks into the water for 1 to 2 minutes, depending how you cut the veggies. Then chill leeks rapidly in a cold water, possibly with ice cubes. Once chilled, pat them dry. They’re ready for packaging.
You can freeze leeks in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Bags are more convenient as you can fill each bag with the portion needed for a single dish and it will take exactly that amount of space in the freezer. So think about the amount you need for the dish you’re going to make and choose accordingly. Label each bag or container with the name and date for future reference. Toss the bags or containers into the freezer.
Leeks, generally speaking, should be frozen for no longer than 6-12 months. The sooner you use them, the better the quality. So after a year in the fridge these veggies will be perfectly edible, although you might not like the taste.
How to Thaw Leeks?
This one is really straghtforward. Just transfer the frozen leaks directly into the dish while cooking. It will thaw and cook and everything will be just fine. You might try thawing them in the fridge, but that doesn’t make much sense as they will go into a cooked dish either way.
While leeks are available all year long, from time to time you might want to stock up and freeze them. The freezing process is quite simple: wash, cut, blanch if needed, and freeze. Remember that freezing leeks works only for cooked dishes.