So you love leeks, but who doesn’t? It has an amazing flavor and it makes dishes taste better. Roast it or grill it and you already have a tasty side dish. Or slice it into little pieces and put them in soups. Using leeks for a very long time in the kitchen creates a sense of familiarity. You get used to how it tastes as well as how it looks – long light green stalks full of savory flavor.
If you haven’t tried leek microgreens – or if you haven’t seen any microgreen – I expect your first encounter with leek microgreens to be interesting. You will be surprised, for sure, but you will be curious too, wondering what new possibilities leek in this form can offer.
Species: Allium ampeloprasum L
Leek Microgreen Trivia
- In ancient Rome and Greece, leeks are considered important because it helps alleviate throat discomfort. Historians believe leek was part of the regular diet of Aristotle and Nero, who, according to historians, considers leek as one of his favorite vegetables.
- Ancient Egyptian drawings and carvings dating as far back as the second millennium BC indicate that leeks were part of the Egyptian diet.
- Wales has two important national emblems – daffodil and leek.
Leek Microgreen Buying Guide
Leek microgreens are sold in groceries, supermarkets, farmers markets, and other specialty stores. Ask around for local growers so that you can source your leek microgreens locally, especially if you are in the restaurant or food catering business requiring a regular supply of leek microgreens.
When buying leek microgreens, buy just enough until the next grocery day. If this is the first time you are buying leek microgreens, try to buy in small quantities first so that you can taste it; should you not like it, you don’t have a lot of leek microgreens to dispose of and you are not being wasteful.
When buying, make sure to inspect it thoroughly. See if the leaves and stems are of good quality. It is ok if one or two are wilted, but if most of the bunch are wilted and do not appear fresh, do not buy it.
If you are buying seeds so that you can grow your own leek microgreens, this will give you an idea of how many seeds you expect to get from a pack.
- 1-ounce pack contains approximately 8,000 seeds
- 4-ounce pack contains approximately 32,000 seeds
- 1-pound pack or bag contains approximately 128,000 seeds
- 5-pound pack or bag contains approximately 640,000 seeds
- 25-pound pack or bag contains approximately 3,200,000 seeds
Leek Microgreen Production & Farming in Texas
Growing leek microgreens is easy. Leek microgreens prefer two types of mediums for growing: soil and hydroponic system. Put soil on your growing tray. Moisten the soil if it feels dry but do not overwater it because if this happens, you need an extra hour just to make sure the excess water has fully drained. The next step is sprinkling the seeds on the growing medium. If you are unsure how many seeds you need, 1.25 ounces of seeds are enough to cover a 10×20 tray without the problem of overcrowding. Lightly mist the seeds using a spray bottle. Cover the tray with a lid and keep it somewhere dark with a room temperature ranging from 60°F to 70°F. Remove the lid and mist them lightly every day. For leek microgreens, expect signs of germination in 3 to 4 days. The next step is exposing them to sunlight. You can use grow light, artificial light, or indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight is not recommended because the microgreens will easily dry.
Leek microgreen seeds require no soaking. Blackout time is between 4 to 6 days. Leek microgreens are ready for harvest in about 10 to 12 days.
- Buy leek microgreen seeds from a reputable seed seller or distributor.
- Water from the side of the tray to make sure the weight of the water will not squash the microgreens, or maintain water in the water tray.
- Free to sample a few each day starting from day 8. You’ll notice the subtle difference in flavor as the microgreens continue to grow.
- Rotate crop once it is exposed to light to avoid “bending” microgreens.
- Molds can “hop” from plants to your microgreens, so avoid putting your grow trays beside other plants just to be safe.
There are farmers and growers in Texas who grow leek microgreens, ranging from small backyard urban gardening to big commercial operations. Timeya’s Microgreens LLC in Denton County is one example of microgreen growers and sellers in the state. Many here in Texas grow microgreens for their supply and consumption. There are also initiatives in Texas like the Big Tex Urban Farms that help promote the business as well as the attitude of the public towards microgreens. Texas restaurants with microgreens on the menu use and mix different microgreens including leek microgreens.
Microgreens are a fast-growing crop. This means there is very little time for pests to be a problem. If there is a pest `problem, it will probably involve aphids and whiteflies. If the problem requires the use of pesticides, make note of the following:
- Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
- Whiteflies – Malathion or Pyrethrins are effective against whiteflies.
Leeks are native to Central Asia where they are being widely cultivated even today. Leek is also cultivated in many parts of Europe. But leek microgreens are widely grown in the US, the birthplace of microgreens.
Leek microgreens present another way to eat leeks, and because of grow lights and temperature-controlled rooms, it is possible to grow any microgreens anywhere in the world, and that includes leek microgreens. North America is a major microgreens market. The US (where microgreens originated), Canada, and Mexico are among the top producing countries of microgreens.
Leek microgreens are sold in transparent plastic clamshell packaging or Styrofoam food tray covered with plastic wrap.
Enjoying Leek Microgreens
You can eat leek microgreens raw. When you eat a leek microgreen, you will notice its onion flavor underneath its stringy texture. Wash them, dry them, and put them in a bowl for anyone who wants to snack on fresh leek microgreens. This is a great way to start a healthy and nutritious snacking habit. But be careful not to eat too many leek microgreens – or any at all – if you have a history of having an allergic reaction to leeks. Consult your physician first.
If you have to store leek microgreens, make sure to wrap these in damp paper towels before you put these inside a resealable plastic bag or food container. They will last for a week this way. Freezing is not ideal because microgreens simply do not have the structural strength mature, full-grown vegetables have to survive being frozen and thawed. Most of the time, freezing and thawing will turn microgreens into slime, and what is left is unappetizing.
If the leek microgreens you bought came in clamshell packaging, use it to store leek microgreens in the refrigerator. If, for some reason, you need to transfer the leek microgreens to a different container, choose a plastic container with a lid. The least ideal storage is glass because it has the most condensation when in the refrigerator and the condensation contributes to the degradation of the quality of the leek microgreens inside. Avoid putting them near the vent of the refrigerator because if the temperature fluctuates, it will affect the condition of the leek microgreens. Put it on the lower shelf where the temperature is more stable. Remember that different microgreens vary when it comes to how long they keep in the refrigerator.
There are a lot of ways to use leek microgreens. Toss green vegetable salad with leek microgreens. If you love making sandwiches, put some leek microgreens and make your sandwich crunchier and tastier. Use it as filling for any wrapped food like tacos and spring rolls. On a rainy day and you have a bowl of hot soup in hand, why not sprinkle it with some leek microgreens? This also works for stews, curries, and noodles. You can also sprinkle leek microgreens on any baked food (or add it during baking), like pizza. Leek microgreens are also great on pasta. Pancakes are traditionally accompanied with sweet elements like maple syrup, but savory pancakes taste good too, and you can add leek microgreens to savory pancakes. You can also garnish sushi with leek microgreens. Those who prefer eating soft food can turn microgreens into smoothies – try adding leek microgreens to the mix! Leek microgreens are great mixed with eggs if you are making a breakfast omelet.
Leek microgreens contain vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese, copper, iron, folate, dietary fiber, magnesium, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating leek microgreens can help the kidney, eyes, bones, and skin while improving our cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure. Leek microgreens can help you prevent anemia, relieving inflammation, and manage type 2 diabetes. It also helps in preventing cancer while at the same time aiding in weight loss and improving digestion.