How Long Do Leeks Last and How to Tell if They’re Bad?

Tossed your fresh leek in the fridge and wondering how much you have before they go bad? How long do leeks last?

Or maybe yours don’t look that great, and you need to know how to tell if they’re still okay to eat.

Sounds familiar? Let’s dive right in.

How Long Do Leeks Last?

Leeks shelf life

Whole fresh leeks can last up to two weeks in the crisper drawer in the fridge. Leave the roots attached and the veggie unwashed for best results.

Some sources, like the South Dakota State University Extension, even state that leeks can keep in the fridge for up to a month. But that depends on how fresh the green veggies were when you bought them and how you store your leeks.

Because of that, it’s better to go with a more conservative estimate of about two weeks, which is similar to how long celery lasts and the shelf life of green onions.

(If that’s not enough, you can freeze leeks similar to how I freeze celery.)

To get the longest possible storage time, you should buy the best leeks available in the grocery store or farmers’ market. Here’s how:

What if you can’t quite fit your leeks in the fridge and you’d rather store them in the pantry or on the counter?

On the Counter

Leeks keep for 3 to 5 days at room temperature, depending on storage conditions. They’ll last much longer in a cool basement than in a kitchen cabinet. If you’re not refrigerating leeks, put them in a cool and dry place and use them as soon as possible.

Like almost all veggies, leeks need to sit in a cold environment after harvest. That means leaving them on the counter is only a temporary solution and is okay if you’ll use them in a day or two.

Need to store them for longer? Make some space in your fridge.

Cut Leeks

Cut leeks

Cut leeks last about a week in the crisper drawer, while sliced or chopped will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container or freezer bag in the fridge.

How long cut leeks last depends on how you cut them.

If you just cut the upper third of the edible part because you need some for your chicken stock, the rest will still retain quality for quite a long time, like a week or even longer. But if you slice or chop it for a soup, and it turns out you have leftovers, you only get a few days of good quality before they wilt completely.

Now, what about cooked leeks?

Cooked Leeks

Cooked leeks last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge when sealed tightly. Let them cool to room temperature, then cover or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

(The same is true for blanched leeks, obviously.)

Even though Michigan State University says you should use cooked leeks within two days, I don’t see why leeks should be any different than other cooked leftovers. And that’s why I suggest going with the usual 3 to 4 days of storage.

When letting the leeks cool, remember that the process shouldn’t take more than 2 hours. That’s the 2-hour rule in practice.

How to Tell if Leeks Are Bad?

Leeks spoilage signs

Discard leeks that are soft, limp, or slimy. Toss ones that are moldy, rotten, and smell bad. These are sure signs that your leeks have seen better days, and you should throw them out.

That’s leeks spoilage 101.

Next, let’s cover some details:

  • Softness or sliminess. These are sure signs of moisture loss and prolonged storage. If things get this far, those leeks are no good anymore. Of course, leeks that are a bit wilted are still okay to use, especially in soups and cooked dishes.
  • Mold. If there’s any fuzzy action on the surface of your leeks or any salad or cooked dish, it’s time for it to go. Trying to cut off or scoop and discard the mold is a bad idea. Better safe than sorry.
  • Rot. Rot isn’t a common scenario, but leeks with black or discolored spots or areas happen. Cut it off and use the rest if only a tiny part of the veggie is spoiled. Discard it otherwise.
  • Off smell. Leeks smell like a mild version of an onion. But if yours give off a sharp, biting odor or smell off in any other way, it’s time for them to go.

Besides that, remember that one or two discolored outer layers are normal for leeks that sit in storage for more than a few days. You peel and discard those layers or cut off the dried parts and use the rest. You do the same with brussels sprouts, which I talk about in my piece on the shelf life of brussels sprouts.

Yellowing coarse leek leaf

Now, what if your leeks are likely to go bad soon, and you’re looking for ways to use them up?

Here are a couple of suggestions.

How to Use Leeks Before They Go Bad?

Leek soup

Here are a few ideas to quickly use up a couple of leeks:

  • Leek soup. A simple potato leek soup is the easiest option to use up excess leeks, especially during the colder months. Here’s a recipe to check out.
  • Leek kimchi. Are you into Asian cuisine? If so, instead of making or buying another jar of kimchi, try out this leekchi recipe. It might become your favorite use for leeks.
  • Braised leeks. Got a couple of spare leeks, butter, chicken stock and some spices? Make these braised leeks to use up a whole bunch of leeks.

Looking for more? Just google a phrase like “leek salad” and find something that looks good and you have the ingredients for.

And if you need to use up a small amount, like half a leak, toss it into your next stock (vegetable or chicken), potato soup, or any other veggie soup.

Rotten Records: Share Your Snap!

Caught some food past its prime? Upload your photo to “Rotten Records” and help others spot the signs of spoilage. Every image makes our food community safer and more informed!

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