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An Introduction
Leeks refers to a sweet and moderately flavored vegetable which is closely associated with onions and garlic. Scientifically termed as allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (L.), they are a part of the Alliaceae family. Renowned for its delicate and sweeter flavor, leek adds a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering the other flavors that are present. Due to their mild flavour, many onion-haters love this ground vegetable.

This sweet and mild flavoured vegetable is an inseparable element of many renowned dishes. Leeks are most commonly used in soups, most notably in vichyssoise, a lovely soup composed of potatoes and leeks and served cold -- excellent for summer day lunching.


Brief History
For centuries, the leek has been widely used in preparing many delicious recipes all around the globe. A native to the Mediterranean countries, leeks are widely cultivated in temperate regions of the world. This root vegetable has been known as a food for over 4000 years in the Middle East. Researchers have discovered traces of leeks near Egyptian pyramids.

In the traditional medicinal system, leeks were used for curing many diseases. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed the leek as a cure for nosebleeds. It was closely associated with Wales. Even today the leek is worn as the national flower of Wales on St. David's day.


Plant Description
A member of the Alliaceae family, leeks have the appearance of over-sized green onions. They resemble large scallions, having a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of superimposed layers that flow into green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves.

The leek plant can grow to a height of 10 - 15". The edible part of the leek plant is sometimes called a stem, though technically it is a bundle of leaf sheaths.

Leeks prefer cold climate and can withstand a considerable amount of exposure to temperatures

below 32° F. A native to Mediterranean and the Middle East, this biennial plant needs well drained soil for obtaining optimum production.

Nutritional Value
Like all members of the Alliaceae family, leeks are a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6. The lower leaf portion and bulb of one cup of raw leeks would provide the body with 54 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 18 milligrams of sodium. Raw leeks contain 30 percent of the RDA for vitamin A, 18 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, 10 percent of the RDA for iron and 5 percent of the RD for calcium.

Culinary Uses
Known for its mild taste and delicious aroma, leeks are widely used for culinary purposes. The white

elongated bulb at the base of the leaves, makes a very tasty, fresh vegetable, either on its own or in stews or casseroles. In Europe, it is widely used in soups and stews and is cooked whole as a vegetable. The edible portions of the Leek are the white onion base and light green stalk.

It is a vital component of many globally renowned dishes including cock-a-leekie, leek & potato soup and vichyssoise. Leeks can also be used raw in salads, doing especially well when they are the prime ingredient. The green leafy tops of leek is excellent for flavouring soups and stews.

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