How To Store Leeks and How Long Do They Last?

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.

Leek

How To Store Leeks

Store uncut and unwashed leeks in the fridge to keep them fresh the longest. Consider wrapping them in plastic or using a plastic bag if other foods absorb their smell.

If you’re going to use your leeks within a couple of days, leaving them at room temperature is okay.

While refrigeration is the recommended method for storing leeks ([SDSU, MF]), they can sit in the pantry or kitchen for like 2 to 4 days without significant quality loss. If space in your refrigerator comes at a premium, that might be an option for you.

Cut leek
Cut leek

Like pretty much all veggies, you shouldn’t wash or trim leeks before putting them in storage ([SDSU, MF]). Plus, it’d be pretty much impossible to clean the veggie properly without cutting it in half lengthwise.

Tip

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.

When it comes to cut up leeks or leftover cooked leeks, transfer them into an airtight container and refrigerate.

If you washed those cut leeks, dry them thoroughly before you put them storage. I do that by laying them on a kitchen towel for 15 minutes, and then patting them dry with another kitchen towel or a couple paper towels.

Drying leeks after washing
Drying leeks after washing

How Long Do Leeks Last?

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.

While leeks are close relatives to onions and garlic, they don’t last nearly as long.

If you buy yours fresh and follow the guidelines from the storage section, you can expect about two weeks of storage ([SDSU, MF]).

If you can’t fit it in your refrigerator and have to leave it in the pantry or kitchen cabinet, that period drops to 3 to 5 days, depending on the temperature.

Salad with leek in containers
Salad with leek in containers

Any cooked leftovers, salads, or cut-up leeks keep for about 3 to 4 days, which is standard for pretty much all types of leftover food.

To get the longest possible storage time, you should try to buy the best ones available in the grocery store or farmer’s market. That means going for firm ones with lots of white and light green coloring and avoiding those with withered and yellowing tops ([SDSU]).

Tip

If the leek is firm, green leaves look fresh, and the colors are vibrant, go for it. If it’s limp or looks old and dry, give it a pass.

PantryFridge
Leeks (whole)3 – 5 daysup to 2 weeks
Leeks (cut-up)3 – 4 days
Leeks (cooked, leftovers, etc.)3 – 4 days
Please note the periods in this table are only estimates.
Salad with leek: closeup
Salad with leek: closeup

How To Tell If Leeks Are Bad?

Throw out leeks that:

  • Are 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.
  • Are 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.
  • Are moldy. If there’s any fuzzy action on the surface of your salad, it’s time for it to go. Trying to scoop and discard the mold and eating the rest is a bad idea.
  • Smell bad in any way. If your leek doesn’t smell like a mild version of an onion, but rather harsh, biting, or off in any other way, throw it out.
  • Sit too long in storage. If your cut-up or cooked leeks are in the fridge for more than 5 days, it’s time for them to go.
Yellowing coarse leek leaf
Yellowing coarse leek leaf, quite normal in leeks stored for more than a few days

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 simply peel and discard those leaves, or cut off the dried parts, and use the rest. You already do the same thing when you prep onions.

Warning

The longer your leeks sit in storage, the more outer leaves you have to cut off and throw out.

Sources