You can usually buy leeks year-round so is there a need to freeze them? However, they often are sold in big bundles, and sometimes they are on sale. If you like leeks you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to buy more than you need at the present moment.
However, it isn’t that easy to freeze leeks and get good results. This is because they have a high water content which can make the leeks go soggy. They are not the best vegetable to freeze, but it can be done. Considering that, in general, you will be freezing leeks to use in recipes, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the leeks will go soggy anyway. It’s only if you want to use them raw in a salad garnish (see also Freezing Radishes) that you will have a problem.
The texture of the leeks will be affected by the temperature in the freezer. Leeks can secrete a gooey liquid so you have to remember this when freezing them. You need to choose the hardest leeks you can find if you want to get good results.
You won’t be able to regain the crunchy texture of your leeks once you have frozen and then defrosted them. They are going to be soggy. However, leeks aren’t generally used cold, so if you are going to use them in a dish, this won’t matter. If you make a leek and potato soup, you will blend the soup before serving so it won’t matter if the leeks are soggy to begin with. In fact, if you use fresh leeks in a soup, they will go soggy anyway. The taste will be delicious either way.
How Do You Freeze Leeks?
As we have said, you need to choose the best leeks that you can find in the store if you are going to freeze them. The harder they are, the better. Choose leeks that are colorful. The leaves should be bright green and not wilted. The bulbs should be pure white and solid. Don’t buy leeks that are starting to go brown or yellow. Freezing isn’t a magic answer. They will be the same after you have frozen and defrosted them.
To freeze the leeks, wash them first until any dirt and debris have gone. There is usually dirt in between the leaves so you need to take care. You don’t want to freeze leeks with debris as you may want to add them straight into a dish after taking them out of the freezer. When you have washed the leeks, pat them dry with paper towels. You don’t want to add any extra water into the freezing process.
The next step is to chop the leeks. You can slice them into even pieces or you can just chop them roughly. If you want to use them as a cold salad garnish (see also How To Freeze Green Onions) when defrosted, it is best to chop them evenly. However, if you are going to use them in a dish, rough chopping works very well.
Once you have chopped the leeks, you have two choices. You can either flash freeze them or direct freeze them.
Flash Freezing the Leeks
If you flash freeze, you are more likely to retain the smell of the leeks as well as their nutrient value. However, it is more complicated than direct freezing.
To flash freeze, get a baking tray and place wax paper or aluminum foil on it. Put the chopped leeks onto the tray in a single layer, making sure that none of the chopped leeks are touching each other. Then put the baking tray into the freezer for about an hour and a half.
When you take the leeks out of the freezer, put them in a resealable plastic bag. Because they are already partially frozen, they won’t stick together and you will be able to use however many you want when you defrost them.
It is a good idea to squeeze the air out of the plastic bag to avoid freezer burn. This will dry out your leeks. You should also put the date you froze the leeks on the bag so that you don’t keep them in the freezer for too long.
If you want preparation time to be minimal when you freeze your leeks, use this method. All you have to do is chop your leeks and put them in a resealable plastic bag with the date written on the bag. This method can lead to the slices of leek sticking together so only use it if you want to use the whole bag in a recipe.
Blanching the Leeks Before Freezing
You can blanch the leeks before you freeze them. In fact, this is the way to go as the leeks retain the original color of the leaves.
Boil a saucepan of water and submerge the chopped leeks in the water with a colander. Leave for a couple of minutes. The leaves should turn bright green and this is the time to put them in iced water. As soon as they have chilled, pat them dry with paper towels. Put the leeks in a resealable plastic bag, squeeze out the air, and seal. Put the leeks in the freezer, making sure that you lay them down flat.
Shelf Life of Frozen Leeks
Leeks can be stored in the freezer for around three months. However, once they are defrosted, it is advisable to use them as soon as possible as they will deteriorate.
Thawing Frozen Leeks
The chances are high that you will be using the frozen leeks in a dish, so add them straight into the pot. You don’t need to defrost them. Perhaps you want to make a leek and potato soup or a leek and chicken pie. If you want to use the leeks cold, just thaw them on your worktop. It only takes around an hour for them to defrost. It is best to use them for just one meal as they will deteriorate rapidly.
It isn’t difficult to freeze leeks, but you won’t get the crunchy texture you had before you froze them. Still, as it is highly likely that you will be using them in a hot recipe, this shouldn’t matter much. They will still retain the taste they had before being frozen. Enjoy your dishes made with frozen leeks.