Leeks, are also called spring onions. The leek is a member of the onion family, but the flavor is much more refined, subtle and sweet, compared to regular onions. Originating from the Mediterranean region and Asia, leeks are cultivated for more than 3000 years now, and have long been popular in Europe.
European cooks ironically called leeks the "asparagus of the poor". Asparagus is actually a distant relative of leeks and are of the same plant family as Lilies.
Wild leeks are a different type of leek onion. It is much smaller in size, close to small fish chives or young shallots. Unlike ordinary onions, wild ones have very strong aroma and taste.
History of leeks
Leeks were more valuable in times of ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who spread the taste throughout Europe. In Egypt when Pharaoh Khufu wanted to show gratitude, he gave various gifts, including 100 bunches of leeks. Leeks were among the gifts served to the gods of shadows and dream.
It is a symbol of Wales, where every year on the day of St. David people decorate their hats with them. Legend tells how this saint commanded the Welsh soldiers to decorate their helmets and clothes with it, to stand out from the enemy in battle with the Saxons.
Composition of leeks
Leeks are a good source of dietary fiber as well as foliates, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. It is rich in vitamin B1, B6, copper, magnesium, it lacks any fat. It contains more proteins than there are in onion, and the composition of its essential oils has sulfur. It contains sugar, carotene, phosphorus and iron.
Types of leeks
Leeks are divided into two main groups, depending on season and length of stem:
Winter leeks - grow from November to April and a thick and big heads. Belongs to the so-called. European group which is grown extensively in the Northern, Western and Central Europe. Winter leeks are very cold resistant.
Summer leeks - grow from May to June, delicate and fragile, it has much less resistance to cold. The most common summer leeks are smaller than winter.
Selection and storage of leeks
Leeks is available year round in most markets, but its peak season is from September to late April. Leeks are usually sold in bundles. Upon purchase, choose one that comes unpackaged, as well as for the roots and dark green leaves not be cut off as it is a prerequisite for a longer shelf life.
Wrapped in plastic wrap leek is at greater risk of decay. When selecting leeks, also ensure that it is clean, white onion, at least two to three inches white and hard, tight, dark green tops. Choose young leeks, because they have a more delicate flavor and texture. It is more appropriate to choose a thin one, elongated, and not one which is big and bloated.
Avoid a leek which has seeds as create a hard and unpleasant taste.
Leeks emit a scent that can be absorbed by other foods in the refrigerator, having them packed in a plastic film that will keep odor and moisture in before cooking. Also, leeks should not be washed or cut before storing.
Depending on how fresh it is, it can be stored and other dark and cool places from five days to two weeks. Leeks are also stored in the refrigerator, remembering they should be covered and their use will be possible within one to two days. It is appropriate to keep the leeks by freezing or canning them.
The flavor of leeks is considered more sophisticated than the usual onion. Leeks is the main ingredient of the famous French soup vishisoaz. This is one kind of onion used in almost all dishes with fresh vegetables, available practically all year round.
Benefits of leeks
Easier for recasting of the body than regular onions, leeks have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic and anti-arthritic properties. It is said that leeks are an extremely powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals.
Experts recommend consuming leeks as a preventive measure against stomach cancer. Leeks make blood thinner, preventing the formation of clots. Extremely suitable for conditions such as diabetes, chronic bronchitis, infections and atherosclerosis.
The benefits of the consumption of leeks does not end here. It strengthens the resistance of the body, maintains liquid balance, makes the skin smooth and healthy, helps muscle activity, helps in quick healing of wounds.
Dangers of leeks
Leeks should not be consumed with pathological conditions of the kidney, also not recommended for people who suffer from gastritis and ulcers. To kill the sharp taste of the vegetables, they can be blanched prior to boiling in salted water.