Monday, November 7, 2011

Save the Leeks

Leeks ready to Blanch
I found myself with some store-bought leeks and then no time to make something tasty with them before they spoil. (They are too expensive to allow to spoil!) My freezer is full, as are the canning shelves... so I decided to dehydrate them. Invariably I will want to use leeks in a dish and not find any available in our local grocery stores. Dehydrating solves the problem of limited storage space, and lets me Save the Leeks.

Eazy-Peazy. Many who dehydrate leeks prefer to slice the leeks in half lengthwise, but I prefer whole rings. Cut off the root end, peel off the outer layer, and slice into 1/4 inch slices. When you get to green, tough outer leaves, remove another layer, and slice up to the next tough leaves.  When you have salvaged all you can, put the slices in cold running water and clean thoroughly.

Leeks are grown planted in a trench and "hilled" as they grow, blanching the stems white. In the growing process, lots of sand/dirt gets trapped in the leeks so they must be rinsed thoroughly (unless you like to eat grit).

First batch chilling

After they are well-rinsed, drop them into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes to blanch. You may need to do them in several batches to keep the water temp from dropping with the addition of the leeks, depending on quantity of leeks you have. Remove them from boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop immediately in an ice water bath to stop the cooking.

First batch draining

After chilling for 3-4 minutes, I drained mine briefly on paper toweling before distributing on the dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at about 100ºF. How long depends on how thick you sliced them, but easily done in an afternoon.

After Dehydrating

You can rehydrate them for use later in hot water for 15 minutes; mine usually go into a dish with lots of liquid so I add them dry.

I dry mine to the crispy stage, and just store them in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. I check them after 24 hours... if they aren't fully dry, some moisture will appear inside the jar. If so, they go back in the dehydrator for 2 or so more hours.

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