Freezing leeks is easy and is a great way to preserve your harvest for later. I’ll show you step-by-step how to freeze leeks so you can use them later in many dishes. We are going to blanch them first but that is easy to do. Blanching the leeks will ensure that they stay fresh and keep their flavor while in the freezer until we are ready to use them. If you’ve ever asked how to freeze leeks this post is for you! I have the handy freezing leeks printable for you at the end of this post.
Leek is one of those second priority crops, at least for me. I’ve wanted to grow them forever but there were always more important things to grow like tomatoes, potatoes, or lettuce and I just didn’t take the time to learn how to grow leeks and even what to do with them…
I guess since I never used leeks that much in my cooking I didn’t have a burning desire to grow them.
Then a few months ago I went to a friend’s house for a holiday dinner and she had turkey meatballs out for everyone to enjoy as an appetizer.
They were so good that I had to ask for the recipe. When she said that she added leeks to the ground turkey meat I was so surprised! I could tell that there was something different about those meatballs but I would have never guessed that it was leeks.
Then my mother came for a visit (from Israel) and made a vegetable soup with lots of leeks in it. I ate and prepared a hearty vegetable soup a million times before then, but that soup was just so good.
Maybe it was the fact that I was smack dab in the middle of a divorce and the court just ordered my home-schooled kids to go to public school or maybe it was the leeks… There was something different about that soup.
That was it, I had to make room for some leeks in my garden.
So I did and I’ll walk you through how to grow leeks in a different post in case you want to try but for right now just know that growing leeks ain’t a walk in the park.
You start them indoors, then plant outside in soil that you really need to work well, then you weed and weed and weed, and then weed some more and on and on and on… It takes them a long time to grow.
What I am trying to say is that by the time you harvest your leeks you know for sure that you are going to get as much as you can from them because you worked hard to get to the moment of harvesting.
I spent some time researching how to preserve leeks but couldn’t find a whole lot of information and what I could find suggested freezing leeks instead of canning leeks. I am pretty sure that you can can leeks just as you’ll can onions (they are from the same family) but I figured that it’s better to listen for once and just freeze my leeks.
How to Freeze Leeks…
This year (2019) was my first year of growing leeks and I have to say that I was really proud of my harvest. I still have some tweaking to do in order to get my leek operation just right but for my first time, it’s not bad at all.
I would love to get to a point where the white part of my leeks is much larger since this is the part we use but even though it wasn’t huge this time around I got 20 cups of leeks to freeze. I think that will be enough leeks for us for this winter to use in turkey meatballs (I’ll have this recipe on the blog soon) and a lot of different kinds of soups.
So after I harvested my leeks I washed the soil off of them in the hose outside. Then I clipped the roots and the tops. You want to clip just above where the leek starts to open, about an inch above the white part.
I placed all of my leeks in a basket and brought them inside…
leeks really require a second, more thorough, cleaning. Soil gets in between the layers of the leeks and it can be a little hard and tricky to get it out.
I’ve tried a few different ways and found that the one that works the best is to point the top of the leek towards the stream of water that is coming down from the faucet. Then, you might need to peel the outer layers back a little bit to make sure you reach to where there is some soil between the layers.
After I washed all of my leeks, it’s chopping time. I just cut the leeks into thin circles. You can really do it any way you want depending on how you are going to use your leeks later. For me, smaller pieces made more sense but you can go bigger if you want.
Once I had all of my leeks cut I placed all the pieces in a large bowl and took it close to the stove.
We are going to blanch the leeks. If you would like to learn more about blanching, visit my post; Blanching Green Beans for Freezing, but essentially blanching is processing the vegetables in boiling water for a couple of minutes before freezing them.
Blanching is not cooking, we just want to let the vegetables process in the hot water for a couple of minutes because the boiling water is going to kill any organisms and stop the enzyme activity that can cause loss of color, texture, or taste when we freeze the vegetables.
In other words, blanching helps us ensure that our harvest is going to stay fresh and tasty longer in the freezer. It might take a tiny bit of extra time but it’s worth it!
You can also see how I blanch potatoes and freeze them for an easy homemade french fries here. If I know that my vegetables are going to sit in the freezer for a while, I always take the time to blanch them before I pack them for the freezer.
Ok, so in order to blanch those leeks we need to bring a pot full of water to a boil…
Once the water is boiling, I add the leeks. I work in batches so it’s easier to manage. I let the leeks blanch in the boiling water for two or three minutes…
Meanwhile, I make sure that I have a large bowl of ice-cold water ready for the leeks. Like I said before, we don’t want to cook the leeks so in order to stop the cooking process fast we are going to transfer the leeks into this ice bath right from the boiling water.
I always have ice ready to go in my freezer during the growing season. If I know that I have a large harvest to freeze I will stop by the gas station and get a large bag of ice. I suggest you get your ice bath ready before you add the leeks to the boiling water. Bottom line is… The leeks have to go right in the ice bath after just a couple of minutes in the hot water.
Once the time is up, I use my large slotted spoon to scoop the leeks from the pot…
Right into the icy water.
I let them float around in the icy water for a few minutes until they are cool and then transfer them into a strainer. This is one of those strainers that you can set over the sink. I can use the boiling water for the next batch of leeks but the icy water is not icy anymore so I just dump the whole thing into the strainer instead of scooping the leeks.
I then fill the bowl with cold water and add more ice for the next batch of leeks.
Next, the leeks are put on a large towel to dry a little bit. I can not find a huge kitchen towel so I use a regular bath towel for this. I place all of my leeks on it and let them dry.
Here is the thing… I pack all of my freezer food in freezer vacuum bags sealed with a vacuum machine (you’ll see this in a minute). But, no matter how long I let my leeks dry on the towel, even when I tried to leave them for a few hours, the vacuum machine will still pull a lot of liquid out of them when vacuuming and the liquid makes it impossible for the machine to seal the bag.
So After I experimented a little bit I figured that the best way for me to do this is to pack the bags, let the leeks freeze and then seal the bags…
Packing Leeks for Freezing…
Here is how I do this… I pack each of my vacuum bags with two cups of leeks…
I set them in the freezer in a way that will allow me to seal the bag once the leeks are frozen.
Did you get that? This is important. Once the leeks are frozen you can’t move them inside the bag to make it easy to seal it, so make sure you set your bags in the freezer in a way that you’ll know you’ll be able to seal the bags later.
The next day, I pull one bag at a time from the freezer…
Insert a paper towel (folded) at the top of the bag making sure that I have enough room to allow the machine to seal the bag (it won’t seal if the paper towel is in the way).
And I seal the bag with the food vacuum sealer!
If you are asking why I use the paper towel the answer is because the paper towel will absorb any liquid that comes out of the leeks while the machine is vacuuming. The liquid won’t pass the paper towel and won’t reach the top of the bag. This will allow the machine to seal a dry, clean bag in a perfect way so my food lasts for a long time in the freezer.
Here, this trick is not as necessary as when I freeze feta cheese for example, simply because the leeks are already frozen but I do it anyway just in case there is some liquid or pieces of ice that are pulled while the machine is vacuuming the bag.
I label my bags with a trusty Sharpie and off they go to the freezer. Whenever I want to use my leeks I thaw the bag and add my leeks to a soup or any other dish.
After thawing, they will be soft so I can add them raw or cook them further (let’s say before I add them to meatballs I might steam them a bit to get them even softer).
That’s it! Freezing leeks is not complicated. Blanching always adds a little bit more work but it’s really not a big deal and gets easier once you learn how to juggle the bowls and pots and vegetables involved.
Of course, using vegetables when they are fresh out of the garden is the best thing that you can do but if you happen to grow a whole lot of leeks, or maybe come by a beautiful harvest of leeks at the store or the farmer’s market, I encourage you to freeze them so you can use them for months to come. It really is as close to fresh as you can get.
I’d love to hear about your experience with this crop. Do you grow leeks? Do you can them? Do you freeze your leeks? What’s your favorite leek dish? Comment below and let me know!
For a few more tips on freezing leeks including how to make leek oil and freeze it in ice trays, make sure to check this interesting post.
Here is the handy how-to freeze leeks printable…
- A knife
- A cutting board
- A large bowl for ice water
- A large pot for boiling water
- A slotted spoon
- A strainer
- A large kitchen towel or bath towel
- One cup measuring cup
- A few paper towels
- Food vacuum sealer bags
- A food vacuum sealer
- Remove the tops of the leeks and their roots. Wash your leeks well.
- Slice your leeks into thin circles.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Set a large bowl of ice water on the counter close to the stove where the pot of boiling water is.
- Work in batches... Add leeks to the boiling water and let them process for two to three minutes.
- Use the slotted spoon to scoop the leeks out of the boiling water right into the bowl of ice-cold water.
- Set your strainer in the sink or over the sink and dump the ice-cold water and the leeks into it.
- Transfer your leeks from the strainer onto the large towel and let them dry for a few minutes.
- Use a measuring cup to fill each one of the food vacuum bags with two cups of leeks and set your filled bags in the freezer making sure that they are placed in a way that once the leeks inside are frozen you can comfortably vacuum seal the bag.
- Once the leeks are frozen, take one bag at a time out of the freezer, insert a folded paper towel inside the bag on top of the frozen leeks but out of the way of the food sealer machine.
- Vacuum and seal your bags, then label them and place them back in the freezer.
We only use the bottom part of the leeks so make sure to cut the top off about an inch above the white part.
I like to slice my leeks but depending on how you are going to use your leeks later you can cut them in a different way if you'd like.
To use your leeks, simply take a bag out of the freezer and let it thaw. You can further cook or steam your leeks before adding them into dishes or just add them right after they thawed (for example to a soup).
Use your leeks within 10-12 months.