Leek or pearl - a two-year-old herbaceous plant of the Onion subfamily. The birthplace of culture is Western Asia, from where it came to the Mediterranean. Interestingly, from ancient times leek was in ancient Egypt one of the most important vegetable plants. It was also cultivated in ancient times in Rome, Greece. Moreover, in the Middle Ages it spread throughout Europe. Currently, leeks are grown everywhere. The largest plantations are concentrated in Western Europe, particularly in France.
A distinctive feature of the culture is a high content of phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, carotene, ascorbic and nicotinic acids. The vegetable exhibits a diuretic effect, it is useful for gout, rheumatism, scurvy, obesity, urolithiasis and overwork (physical and psychological).
The plant reaches 0.4-0.9 m in height. In the first year of life, culture forms a powerful root system. The leaves are flat, long (0.4-0.6 m), greenish-blue, fan-shaped. The flowers are small, form an umbrella, whitish or pink. The bulb is elongated, with a diameter of 0.02-0.08 m and a length of 0.1-0.12 m. The white basal part of the plant is eaten. Propagated by seeds that retain germination up to 2-4 years.
Currently, 3 varieties are cultivated: leeks of winter, autumn and summer. The collection season falls on April-May and September-December.
Pearl onion is a cold-resistant crop, prefers plentiful watering (without overmoistening), and high humus floodplain or loamy soils.
In popularity, leeks are second only to onions, leaving behind other varieties of the onion family. It has a high yield and a sweet, delicate taste.
Types of leeks by maturity:
- Summer Early ripe varieties belong to it. This is the most productive species. Ripening of summer leeks occurs within 90-140 days. The diameter of the legs is 4 cm, and the weight of one instance is 0.3 kg. The leaves are thin, light green in color. Crops begin to be harvested when the clarified part of the stem reaches 0.4 m in length. Early production is used for processing or summer consumption.
Early ripening varieties include leek Columbus, Vesta, Elephant trunk, White fang, Goliath.
- Autumn. Maturing term - 150-160 days. The leg is thin, reaches 2 cm in diameter, the weight of the plant is 0.2 kg. Mid-ripe species have large darker leaves than early ripe ones.
The most popular autumn varieties: leek Casimir, Winner, Elephant, Good fellow, Kilima, Tango.
- Winter. Matures for more than 6 months. The leaves are dark with a characteristic bluish waxy coating. The leg is thinner than in autumn and summer varieties, does not exceed 2 cm in diameter. They are characterized by high cold resistance and a thickened bleached part.
The winter varieties include: leek Alligator, Karantansky, Bandit, Autumn giant, Mercury.
Early ripe varieties grow rapidly, have a high above-ground part (up to 1.5 m), not winter-hardy. The harvesting period falls on August-early September. Mid-ripening varieties have powerful leaves that are densely located on the false stem. Adult plants can tolerate a drop in ambient temperature to minus 15 degrees. Ripen in early October. Late-ripening varieties are characterized by a short stalk (0.14 m), slow development, and a very dense arrangement of leaves on the stem. Cold and winter resistant. In the southern regions, harvesting falls between November and April.
Due to the long growing season, winter varieties are not grown in the northern latitudes. Summer and autumn species are cultivated in the middle lane.
Leek is a dietary food product that is characterized by a high content of ascorbic acid and potassium salts. 100 grams of the product contains 36 calories.
|Components||Content in 100 grams of product, grams|
|Mono- and disaccharides||6,0|
|Starch and Dextrins||0,3|
|Name||Nutrient content in 100 grams of product, milligrams|
|Ascorbic acid (C)||35,0|
|Beta Carotene (A)||2,0|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||0,12|
|Folic Acid (B9)||0,032|
The mono- and disaccharides that make up leeks are mainly represented by glucose (4%), fiber (8.8%), pectins (10%). In addition, the culture contains phytosterols, most of which are beta-sitosterol (10.5%), purine bases, linolenic, linoleic, oleic unsaturated fatty acids and phytoncides. The latter, in turn, block the propagation of pathogenic fungi and bacteria.
On guard of health
Pearl onion has a stimulating effect on the digestive tract, improves digestion and appetite, eliminates dysbiosis, but at the same time irritates the walls of the stomach. Leek is absorbed very gently, does not cause gas formation in the intestines. It exhibits mild laxative and diuretic properties, provides a normal outflow of bile, preventing the onset of diseases of the liver and gall bladder. The vegetable removes unprocessed food, waste and toxins from the body.
Impact on the immune system
Onions help fight hypovitaminosis, the symptoms of which are especially acute in winter and spring. Most nutrients are concentrated in the film covering the vegetable. Leek stops the foci of inflammation in the body (with internal use) and heals scratches, wounds on the skin (with external use). It strengthens the immune, nervous and skeletal systems. Struggles with acute respiratory infections, colds, coughs, rhinitis. Effective in case of muscle fatigue, general depression and depression. Restores the body after exhausting sports.
Currently, the anti-carcinogenic activity of leeks has been proven.
Effect on the cardiovascular system (CVS)
The vegetable contains iron, which helps the synthesis of hemoglobin, prevents the development of iron deficiency anemia, varicose veins. Leek cleansing acts on the blood, lowers cholesterol, resists atherosclerosis.
The composition of the vegetable includes zeoxanthin, lutein and carotene. These substances support good vision, prevent age-related changes in the eye.
Leek has the following cosmetic properties:
- accelerates hair growth (when rubbed into the scalp);
- eliminates unwanted pigmentation on the face, soothes irritated skin after sunburns, prevents the formation of blisters, relieves redness, strengthens nails (masks based on onion stalks pounded into a homogeneous mass);
- treats corns (attach baked onions to the problem area).
When used regularly, raw leeks help prevent cystitis. The product is especially useful for men, as it serves as a powerful aphrodisiac. The vegetable contains an important sex hormone - androsterone, which enhances energy, the potential of the strong half of humanity.
Juice from leeks has antiseptic and bactericidal effects. Increases the effectiveness of drug treatment of inflammatory diseases (bladder, arthritis and gout).
Leek should be excluded from the daily diet for people suffering from:
- high blood pressure;
- allergies to nickel, essential oils;
- peptic ulcer of the stomach, gastritis, colitis;
- increased acidity.
Use with caution during lactation: in small quantities and always ready-made. Track the baby’s reaction. The essential oils that make up the onion saturate the drink with an unpleasant odor, give a bitter taste. For this reason, newborns often refuse breast milk. In addition, overeating onions can cause nausea, heartburn in the mother and bloating, colic in the baby. If, after breastfeeding, the infant's behavior has changed, nervousness has appeared, the consumption of leek should be stopped.
It is interesting that if a woman consumed onions during pregnancy, the child’s body is considered accustomed to the product and there should be no problems with the introduction of the vegetable into the baby’s diet.
How to choose and store?
Leek should be bought only with strong green leaves, white and dense onions with no signs of wilting. The younger the vegetable, the more tender and aromatic its taste will be. The length of the white part should not exceed 7 cm.
Before eating, leek should be thoroughly washed, as many small stones and earth accumulate in the lower part of the plant. If desired, it can be soaked for 30 minutes in cold water. So nitrates will come out of the product (if organic mixtures or mineral fertilizers were used to stimulate plant growth). To preserve the beneficial properties, the leek is stored in a package of plastic film in the refrigerator. If the onions are not packaged, other foods absorb the pungent smell of the vegetable. From 5 to 7 pieces are placed in one bag. Before storage, the vegetable is not cut and washed. Otherwise, it will quickly deteriorate.
Pearl onion has a unique feature: during storage, it accumulates ascorbic acid, so that its content increases by 1.5-2 times.
Leek to taste softer than onions, produces a delicate aroma. Eat a white stalk. However, coarser green leaves can be used to make various soups. In addition, leek feathers are put in cold appetizers, salads, eat as an independent dish. It harmonizes well and sets off the taste of fresh vegetables.
If the onion is served as a side dish, it should never be digested, since in this form the vegetable is completely digested and turns into an unappetizing mass. Enough to be soft. Vegetable goes well with sour cream, cream, cheese, fish and all kinds of meat. From onions, they prepare a filling for flour products (vegetable and mushroom). Of spices and spices, it harmonizes with basil, lemon, mustard, parsley, sage, thyme, chervil. Leek can be used wherever the recipe provides for the use of onions. In this case, the dish turns out more refined and delicate in taste.
How to use?
The herb is eaten raw or heat-treated.
Cut the white part of the vegetable in rings, boil in salted water for 5 minutes. Do not digest the stems, otherwise they will become mucous. Then transfer the leek to a dry pan, dry for 1-2 minutes over low heat.
Wash leeks, cut into pieces, put in a bowl (colander) and cook over boiling water for 5 minutes. After the specified time, the product is salted. Vegetables can be cooked whole in a double boiler. In this case, the cooking time is increased to 8 minutes.
Steam the young leek or boil, then grease the stems of the plant with oil, grill until brown streaks appear. As a rule, this requires no more than 1-2 minutes on each side.
Chop the stalks with rings, put on a hot pan, fry in oil (creamy or vegetable) for about 8 minutes over medium heat, sometimes turning over. Salt. The onion should become soft and acquire a golden crust.
Put chopped or whole plant stems in a hot pan, add a little broth, a piece of butter. Stew under the lid over low heat for 20 minutes until the vegetable softens.
Cut the stems of the plant into large pieces, place in a baking dish, add olive oil, salt. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Place the pan in the oven, bake for 30 minutes, turn over a couple of times. So the leek will become soft and lightly browned on all sides.
Recipes of traditional medicine:
- To relieve joint pain, treat wounds, boils. In addition, this recipe relieves swelling after a bite of insects (gadflies, mosquitoes, bees). Method of preparation: grind the white and green parts of the plant in a blender until a homogeneous gruel is present. Attach the resulting mass to a damaged place or a sore spot, cover with gauze, a film on top, and fix it with a bandage. Keep the compress for 5-8 hours.
- From a sore throat. Squeeze the juice from the leek. Gargle up to 5 times a day for 3 days. Phytoncides that are part of the vegetable have a local antibacterial effect, kill the painful flora.
- From pneumonia. Finely chop the onion, place in a container, inhale deeply the vapors from the can. Chopped leek quickly loses its useful properties, so you can not store it in this form. For each inhalation, use a new portion of onion.
- With a runny nose. Squeeze the juice from the leek, instill 3 drops in each nostril 3 times a day.
- To restore potency. Grind celery and leek in equal amounts into a homogeneous mass using a blender. Eat gruel 3 times a day, 50 g for 2.5 months.
- To enhance immunity. Chop the leek, add 30 ml of olive oil. Mix everything thoroughly. Take 3 times a day for 40 g.
- From atherosclerosis. Grind 100 g of leek, squeeze the juice. Add 150 ml of honey, mix. Take 15 g of gruel 2.5 hours after a meal three times a day.
- From a strong cough. Leek (4-5 stalks) and garlic (1 head) finely chop, boil in unpasteurized milk until the vegetables soften. Cool, add honey (to taste). Take 15 ml every hour throughout the day.
- From hypertension. Grind 20 cloves of garlic, 4 stalks of leek, 5 lemons without a peel. Add 0.8 kg of sugar (preferably cane) to the mixture. Pour in the ingredients of 2 liters of non-hot boiled water, insist in a cool dark place for 7 days. Take 15 ml 25 minutes before meals three times a day. The course of treatment is 3 weeks.
Leek normalizes metabolism, improves the work of the gall bladder, liver, gastrointestinal tract and has a diuretic effect, due to which it is recommended for use by overweight people. In addition, onion contains rutin, which prevents the formation of fat cells. To find harmony, the vegetable is included in the daily diet as an independent dish or side dish.
Remember, the maximum amount of nutrients is concentrated in a fresh product. Bulbous vegetables contain chromium, which suppresses cravings for sweets and appetite, controls the level of glucose in the blood. In addition, leeks are low in calories - 36 kcal per 100 grams of product.
During the period of weight loss in the diet, bulbs should dominate. They can be eaten raw or boiled. To make the diet effective, limit your intake of fats and carbohydrates. It is highly recommended not to fry the vegetable.
In a week, the onion menu can be 2-4 kg lighter.
Day number 1
- breakfast - tomato - 0.5 pc, cottage cheese 5% - 10 g, brown bread - 1 slice, leek - 1 pc, unsweetened herbal tea - 1 cup;
- second breakfast - apple and carrot puree - 100 g;
- lunch - onion soup puree - 250 ml;
- afternoon snack - a mix of tofu, pineapple and garlic - 150 g;
- dinner - salad of boiled chicken, corn, eggs, leeks - 100 g.
Day number 2
- breakfast - cucumber - 1 pc, cottage cheese with leek - 100 g, brown bread - 1 slice;
- second breakfast - onion pie - 100 g;
- lunch - boiled chicken in garlic sauce - 150 g;
- afternoon snack - a mix of olives, onions and tomatoes - 100 g;
- dinner - apple and onion soup with mustard - 200 ml.
Day number 3
- breakfast - fried eggs with tomatoes and onions, steamed - 150 g;
- second breakfast - grapefruit juice - 150 ml;
- lunch - stewed vegetables with onions - 250 g;
- afternoon snack - green smoothie from spinach, leek and celery - 200 ml;
- dinner - cottage cheese with spinach and garlic - 150 g.
Day number 4
- breakfast - rye bread - 1 slice, onion jam - 15 g, fruit tea - 1 cup;
- second breakfast - pear - 1 pc;
- lunch - a salad of squid, cucumber, leek, apple and egg, seasoned with lemon juice - 150 g;
- afternoon snack - onion pie with arugula and spinach - 100 g;
- dinner - vegetarian soup - 150 ml.
Day number 5
- breakfast - low-fat grained cottage cheese - 10 g, brown bread - 2 slices, leek - 1 pc, tomato - 0.5 pc, tea with lemon;
- second breakfast - onion casserole - 100 g;
- lunch - boiled turkey under caramelized leek - 150 g;
- afternoon tea - orange jelly - 100 g;
- dinner - a salad of bell pepper, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes and leeks - 100 g.
Day number 6
- breakfast - oatmeal - 100 g, omelet with onions - 50 g.
- second breakfast - garlic salad - 100 g;
- lunch - pizza with low-calorie cheese and onions - 150 g;
- afternoon snack - salad with prunes, bell pepper and leek - 100 g;
- dinner - soup with zucchini, leek - 100 g, cucumber - 1 pc.
Day number 7
- breakfast - tomato - 1 pc, pasta from durum wheat with onions - 150 g;
- second breakfast - freshly squeezed apple juice - 150 ml;
- lunch - onion puree soup with croutons - 200 ml;
- afternoon tea - bread with leek - 2 pcs;
- dinner - tomato juice with basil, garlic - 1 cup.
Onion diet is contraindicated for people with digestive tract diseases and a tendency to flatulence, as well as for pregnant and lactating women. Leek enhances intestinal motility, stimulates metabolism, gives satiety, saturates the body with nutrients.
How to grow?
At present, the leek is the third most popular onion among onions, second only to onions and garlic. Cultivation begins with seeds that retain germination up to 3 years. Before planting, they are pre-processed: placed in hot water (with a temperature of 45 degrees), then in cold. To get quick shoots, the seeds are germinated. To do this, lay them on a damp cloth, leave them in a warm place. After 3 days, dry the seeds and sow immediately.
Leek can be grown by seedling method. In this case, the seeds are sown directly into the ground in mid-May.
To obtain seedlings, observe the timing of sowing seeds:
- in seedlings - mid-February;
- glazed greenhouse - mid-April;
- under a film on a bed - the end of April.
Seeds are sown in moist soil in rows (after 0.05 m) in a well-lit area. The daylight hours for the crop are 11 hours. The depth of the groove should not exceed 0.015 m. After sowing the seeds, the box is covered with a film, placed in a warm place with a temperature of 22-25 degrees. After the appearance of the first shoots, the temperature in the room is reduced to 12-17 degrees. The film is removed. Seedlings stand 7 days. Then, the temperature regime is again increased to 14 degrees at night and 20 degrees during the day, observing it for a further period of seed cultivation.
Leeks are a source of health and vitamins. In addition to its many medicinal properties, the vegetable has a delicate aroma and spicy taste, which is why it is widely used in cooking to improve the gastronomic characteristics of dishes. Leek exhibits antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Onion essential oils reduce the symptoms associated with flu and colds.
With regular use, the vegetable prevents airway diseases, increases hemoglobin levels, and protects against anemia. This is an excellent aphrodisiac that enhances sexual activity.
Other useful properties: normalizes digestion, stabilizes blood pressure, promotes weight loss, strengthens the skeleton, lowers cholesterol, improves vision, and improves the nervous system. Leek is good for the heart because it contains active forms of folic acid, which are involved in reducing the concentration of homocysteine, which causes CCC diseases.
In the absence of contraindications, it is recommended that the product be included in the daily diet on an ongoing basis. The daily norm is 1-2 stems.