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The leek is a vegetable, a cultivar of Allium
Allium
ampeloprasum, the broadleaf wild leek. The edible part of the plant is a bundle of leaf sheaths that is sometimes erroneously called a stem or stalk. The genus Allium
Allium
also contains the onion, garlic, shallot, scallion, chive,[1] and Chinese onion.[2] Historically, many scientific names were used for leeks, but they are now all treated as cultivars of A. ampeloprasum.[3] The name 'leek' developed from the Old English
Old English
word leac.[4] Three closely related vegetables, elephant garlic, kurrat and Persian leek or Tareh, are also cultivars of A. ampeloprasum, although different in their uses as food.

Contents

1 Form 2 Cultivars 3 Growing 4 Cuisine 5 Historical consumption 6 Cultural significance 7 Gallery 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

Form[edit] Rather than forming a tight bulb like the onion, the leek produces a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths that are generally blanched by pushing soil around them (trenching). They are often sold as small seedlings in flats that are started off early in greenhouses, to be planted out as weather permits. Once established in the garden, leeks are hardy; many varieties can be left in the ground during the winter to be harvested as needed. Cultivars[edit] Leek
Leek
cultivars may be treated as a single cultivar group, e.g. as A. ampeloprasum ' Leek
Leek
Group'.[5] The cultivars can be subdivided in several ways, but the most common types are "summer leeks", intended for harvest in the season when planted, and overwintering leeks, meant to be harvested in the spring of the year following planting. Summer leek types are generally smaller than overwintering types; overwintering types are generally more strongly flavored. Cultivars include 'King Richard' and 'Tadorna Blue'. Growing[edit] Leeks are easy to grow from seed and tolerate standing in the field for an extended harvest, which takes place up to 6 months from planting.[6] The soil in which it is grown has to be loose and drained well; leek can be grown in the same regions where onions can be grown.[7] Leeks usually reach maturity in the autumn months. Leeks can be bunched and harvested early when they are about the size of a finger or pencil, or they can be thinned and allowed to grow to a much larger mature size. Hilling
Hilling
leeks can produce better specimens. Leeks suffer from insect pests including the thrips species Thrips tabaci and the leek moth.[8][9] Leeks are also susceptible to leek rust (Puccinia allii).[7] Cuisine[edit]

Fresh leek sautéing

Leeks have a mild, onion-like taste. In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm. The edible portions of the leek are the white base of the leaves (above the roots and stem base), the light green parts, and to a lesser extent the dark green parts of the leaves. The dark green portion is usually discarded because it has a tough texture, but it can be sautéed, or more commonly added to stock for flavor.[10] A few leaves are sometimes tied with twine and other herbs to form a bouquet garni. Leeks are typically chopped into slices 5–10 mm thick. The slices have a tendency to fall apart, due to the layered structure of the leek. The different ways of preparing the vegetable are:

Boiling turns it soft and mild in taste. (Care should be taken to chop the vegetable, or else the intact fibers that run the length of the vegetable will tangle into a ball while chewing.) Frying leaves it crunchier and preserves the taste. Raw leeks can be used in salads, doing especially well when they are the prime ingredient. In Turkish cuisine, leeks are chopped into thick slices, then boiled and separated into leaves, and finally filled with a filling usually containing rice, herbs (generally parsley and dill), onion, and black pepper. For sarma with olive oil,[11] currants, pine nuts, and cinnamon are added, and for sarma with meat,[12] minced meat is added to the filling. In Turkey, especially zeytinyağlı pırasa (leek with olive oil), ekşili pırasa (sour leek), etli pırasa (leek with meat), pırasa musakka (leek musakka), pırasalı börek (börek with leek), and pırasa köftesi leek meatball are also cooked.

Leeks are an ingredient of cock-a-leekie soup, leek and potato soup, and vichyssoise, as well as plain leek soup. Because of their symbolism in Wales
Wales
(see below), they have come to be used extensively in that country’s cuisine. Elsewhere in Britain, leeks have come back into favor only in the last 50 years or so, having been overlooked for several centuries.[13] Historical consumption[edit] The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
talks of חציר, identified by commentators as leek, and says it is abundant in Egypt.[14] Dried specimens from archaeological sites in ancient Egypt, as well as wall carvings and drawings, indicate that the leek was a part of the Egyptian diet from at least the second millennium BCE. Texts also show that it was grown in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
from the beginning of the second millennium BCE.[15] The leek was the favorite vegetable of the Emperor Nero, who consumed it in soup or in oil, believing it beneficial to the quality of his voice.[16] Cultural significance[edit]

Still life with leeks by Carl Schuch
Carl Schuch
(National Museum in Warsaw)

The leek is one of the national emblems of Wales, worn along with the daffodil (in Welsh, the daffodil is known as "Peter's leek", Cenhinen Bedr) on St. David's Day. According to one legend, King Cadwaladr
Cadwaladr
of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field.[17] The Elizabethan poet Michael Drayton stated, in contrast, that the tradition was a tribute to Saint David, who ate only leeks when he was fasting.[18] Whatever the case, the leek has been known to be a symbol of Wales
Wales
for a long time; Shakespeare, for example, refers to the custom of wearing a leek as an “ancient tradition” in Henry V. In the play, Henry tells the Welsh officer Fluellen
Fluellen
that he, too, is wearing a leek “for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman.” The 1985 and 1990 British one pound coins bear the design of a leek in a coronet, representing Wales. Alongside the other national floral emblems of countries currently and formerly in the Commonwealth or part of the United Kingdom (including the English Tudor Rose, Scottish thistle, Irish shamrock, Canadian maple leaf, and Indian lotus), the Welsh leek appeared on the coronation gown of Elizabeth II. It was designed by Norman Hartnell; when Hartnell asked if he could exchange the leek for the more aesthetically pleasing Welsh daffodil, he was told no.[19] Perhaps the most visible use of the leek, however, is as the cap badge of the Welsh Guards, a regiment within the Household Division
Household Division
of the British Army.[20] In Romania, the leek is also widely considered a symbol of Oltenia, a historical region in the southwestern part of the country.[21] In early 1990s Albania, protestors waved leeks in defiance of the Communists whose policies had virtually reduced many to this staple.[22]

Gallery[edit]

Two blooming flower heads

A largely spent flower head showing open flowers, as well as developing seed pods

Leek
Leek
field in Houthulst, Belgium

Still life of leeks and thyme

Section and root base

Leek
Leek
sold in a supermarket

Leek
Leek
seeds

See also[edit]

Allium
Allium
tricoccum, a North American plant commonly known as "wild leek" Culture of Wales Farfetch'd, a Pokémon that carries a spring leek Hatsune Miku, whose character item, Green Onion, is often confused with a leek Kurrat, Egyptian leek Laukaz, a rune that has been speculated to mean “leek” List of vegetables Loituma Girl, also known as "Leekspin" Scallion Welsh onion

References[edit]

^ Block, E. (2010). Garlic
Garlic
and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. Royal Society of Chemistry. ISBN 0-85404-190-7.  ^ "AllergyNet — Allergy Advisor Find". Allallergy.net. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2010.  ^ " Allium
Allium
ampeloprasum", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2013-02-01  ^ Caroline Foley (2006). The A-Z of Allotment Vegetables. New Holland Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-84537-283-5.  ^ Brewster, James L. (2008). Onions and other vegetable alliums (2nd ed.). Wallingford, UK: CABI International. ISBN 978-1-84593-399-9.  p. 30 ^ Marie Iannotti (25 February 2014). The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable
Vegetable
Gardening in the Northeast. Timber Press. pp. 186–. ISBN 978-1-60469-595-3.  ^ a b K. V. Peter (25 August 2006). Handbook of Herbs and Spices. Elsevier Science. pp. 370–371. ISBN 978-1-84569-171-4.  ^ Theunissen, J.; Legutowska, H. (1991). " Thrips
Thrips
tabaciLindeman (Thysanoptera, Thripidae) in leek: symptoms, distribution and population estimates". Journal of Applied Entomology. 112 (1-5): 163–170. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0418.1991.tb01042.x. ISSN 0931-2048.  ^ Mason, P.g.; Appleby, M.; Juneja, S.; Allen, J.; Landry, J.-F. (2010-07-01). "Biology and Development of Acrolepiopsis assectella (Lepidoptera: Acrolepiidae) in Eastern Ontario". The Canadian Entomologist. 142 (4): 393–404. doi:10.4039/n10-026. ISSN 0008-347X.  ^ Librarie Larousse, ed. (1984). Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Cooking Encyclopedia. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited.  ^ http://www.takvim.com.tr/Yemek/Diger/2013/01/02/zeytinyagli-pirasa-sarmasi Leek
Leek
sarma with olive oil recipe ^ http://www.turkish-media.com/yemektarifleri/viewrecipe.php?id=859&ord=id&asc=DESC Leek
Leek
sarma with meat recipe ^ Jane Grigson, Jane Grigson's Vegetable
Vegetable
Book, (Penguin Books, 1978, ISBN 0-14-046859-5) p 291 ^ Glantz, Animal and plant life in the Torah, חי וצומח בתורה, p. 204 ^ Zohary, Daniel; Hopf, Maria; Weiss, Ehud (2012). Domestication of plants in the Old World : the origin and spread of domesticated plants in Southwest Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780199549061.  ^ Pliny, Historia Naturalis, XIX, 33. ^ The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction. 5. London: J Limbard. 1825.  ^ Cumo, Christopher, Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants: From Acacia to Zinnia, ABC-CLIO, 2013, p.561. ^ Rosemary Goulding (June 1998). "SILVER AND GOLD". Waterlooville Parish Church. Retrieved 8 February 2013.  ^ Wolf D. Storl (14 June 2016). A Curious History of Vegetables: Aphrodisiacal and Healing Properties, Folk Tales, Garden Tips, and Recipes. North Atlantic Books. pp. 155–. ISBN 978-1-62317-040-0.  ^ Vladimir Mirodan (1987). The Balkan Cookbook. Pelican Publishing Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-88289-738-7.  ^ Clarissa de Waal (17 September 2005). Albania Today: A Portrait of Post-Communist Turbulence. I.B.Tauris. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-1-85043-859-5. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Allium
Allium
ampeloprasum.

Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on

Leek

Allium
Allium
ampeloprasum L. on US National PLANTS Database Allium
Allium
porrum L. on US National PLANTS Database Allium
Allium
ampeloprasum, Porrum on Floridata Leek: Plants For a Future database Food Museum page National Symbols of Wales

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and onion constituents

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