Here’s all you need to know about the storage and shelf life of leeks. Learn how to store leeks, how long they last, and how to tell if one is spoiled.
Bought a few leeks and not sure if you should refrigerate them or not? How to store leeks to keep them fresh?
Or maybe you need to know if yours will last until the weekend. If that’s the case, you certainly want to learn how long leeks last in the fridge.
Either way, you’re here because you want to learn the basics of storing leeks, and that’s what this article is all about.
Let’s dig in.
Table of Contents
- How To Store Leeks
- How Long Do Leeks Last?
- How To Tell If Leeks Are Bad?
- Leeks Storage and Shelf Life Summary
How To Store Leeks
Store untrimmed and unwashed leeks in the fridge to keep them fresh the longest. Wrap them loosely in plastic or use a plastic bag if other foods absorb their smell.
If you’ll use your leeks within 2 to 3 days, leaving them at room temperature is okay.
While refrigeration is the recommended method for storing leeks, they can sit in the pantry or kitchen for 2 to 4 days without significant quality loss. So if space in your refrigerator comes at a premium, that might be an option.
Similar to pretty much all veggies, you shouldn’t wash or trim leeks before putting them in storage. Instead, you cut and trim leeks right before use.
Leeks often have dirt between the leaves. Cut them in half lengthwise and wash the leaves separately to remove all the grit that might be there.
You should refrigerate cut leeks in an airtight container or a resealable bag.
If you wash leeks, for instance, as a part of your prep, dry them thoroughly before you put them in the mentioned container or bag. You don’t want any water droplets on the leaves, as these may cause the veggie to spoil prematurely.
To dry cut leeks, place them on a clean kitchen towel for 15 to 30 minutes, and then pat them dry using another kitchen towel or perhaps a paper towel.
(You can let that paper towel dry and reuse it later.)
The same method works for similar veggies. For instance, I mention it in my article on how to store chives.
Cooked leeks and any dish that includes the veggie require refrigeration. Storing them in an airtight container is probably the best option, but any lidded pot should work fine.
Let the leeks cool before refrigeration, but remember to limit the cooling time to less than two hours so the dish stays safe. That’s the 2-hour rule in action.
How Long Do Leeks Last?
|Leeks (whole)||3 – 5 days||up to 2 weeks|
|Leeks (cut-up)||3 – 4 days|
|Leeks (cooked, leftovers, etc.)||3 – 4 days|
Fresh leeks can last for up to two weeks in the fridge and 3 to 5 days in the pantry. Once you cut them up or cook them, you should eat or discard the leftovers within 4 days.
You can freeze leeks if those periods aren’t long enough for your needs.
While leeks are close relatives to onions and garlic, they don’t last nearly as long (here’s how long onions last). Leeks’ shelf life is much closer to how long celery stays good for or how long green onions last.
If you buy yours fresh and follow the guidelines from the storage section, you can expect about two weeks of storage.
If you can’t fit them in your refrigerator and have to leave them in the pantry or kitchen cabinet, that period drops to 3 to 5 days, depending on the temperature.
Any cooked leftovers, salads, or cut-up leeks keep for about 3 to 4 days, which is standard for almost all types of leftover veggies.
Finally, if you’d like to freeze leeks, you can freeze them the same way I freeze celery.
To get the longest possible storage time, you should try to buy the best ones available in the grocery store or farmers’ market.
When buying leeks, do the following:
- choose firm ones with lots of white and light green coloring
- make sure the green leaves look fresh, and the colors are vibrant
- avoid leeks with withered and yellowing tops
- skip leeks that are limp or look old and dry
How To Tell If Leeks Are Bad?
Discard leeks if:
- They’re soft, slimy, or limp. That’s a sure sign of moisture loss and prolonged storage. If things get this far, those leeks are no good anymore.
- They’re rotten. That’s a far less common scenario than the one above, but it still happens sometimes. If only a small part of the veggie is spoiled, cut it off and use the rest.
- The smell is bad. If your leek doesn’t smell like a mild version of onion, but it gives off an odor that’s rather harsh, biting, or off in any other way, throw it out.
- You notice mold. If there’s any fuzzy action on the surface of your salad or cooked leeks dish, it’s time for it to go. Trying to scoop and discard the mold and eating the rest is a bad idea.
- Cut or cooked sit for more than 4 days. At that point, it’s time for them to go for safety purposes. They might still be okay, they might not, but you never know.
What’s important to note here is that a couple of coarse outer leaves is normal for leeks that sit in storage for more than a few days. You peel and discard those leaves, or cut off the dried parts, and use the rest.
A similar thing happens to lettuce and brussels sprouts. After prolonged storage, outermost leaves are often soft, darkening, or simply not good enough to use, and need to be discarded. I discuss that in detail in my articles on how long lettuce lasts and the shelf life of brussels sprouts.
Leeks Storage and Shelf Life Summary
Thank you for reading this short guide on leeks. Let’s briefly recap what we’ve covered above:
- How to store leeks? Refrigerate untrimmed and unwashed leeks for up to two weeks. If you’ll use them within 2 to 3 days, they can sit in a cool and dark place, like a pantry. Cut and cooked leeks need to be stored in the fridge.
- How long do leeks last? Leeks last for up to two weeks in the fridge and up to 3 to 5 days at room temperature. Cooked or cut leeks keep for 3 to 4 days refrigerated. If you need more time, you can freeze them.
- How to tell if leeks are bad? Leeks are spoiled if they’re soft, limp, leeky, rotten, or smell off. For cut and cooked leeks, look for signs of mold and discard them if you don’t use them within 4 days.