Leeks and green onions are similar in many ways. They belong to the allium family consisting of onions, garlic, Chinese onion, shallots, and chives among others. The alliums are famous for causing tearing when cutting. In yoga, one is discouraged from consuming alliums before a secession. T
hey believe leek and green onions cause fiery energy that prevents one from concentrating. Though similar in many ways, leeks and green onions are different. Leeks have broader leaves than green onions and are tough too. Leeks belong to the allium ampeloprasum family, while green onions belong to the allium cepa family.
Leeks Vs. Green Onions: Overview
According to history, leeks date back to ancient Rome. Leek is famous in Britain and is a national emblem. Its fame started when a British army sergeant ordered his soldiers to put a leaf of leek on their caps for ease of identification during the war. The symbol of the leek leaf is embodied in the cap badge of Welsh guards. Green onions originated in ancient Greek and were first domesticated in Mesopotamia. They have been widely spread and are found in most parts of the world. Leeks are at their peak in October and Green onions during summer.
Leeks have a sweet, mild onion taste. They are more subtle in flavor and aroma compared to onions. Raw leeks are sweet and tender, but the flavor may change depending on how you prepare them. Green onions have a sharper, peppery, somewhat spicy flavor. It is closer to onions than the leek.
Size And Appearance
Leeks have broader leaves and small white bulbs. The leaves are long, growing to 12 to 18 inches, and have a diameter of 2 inches. The leaves are lighter near the bulb and darken as you go up. They are tough and take a longer time to cook. Green onions have smaller leaves with a white, unformed bulb. The leaves, like leeks, have lighter leaves down and dark green to the top. Green onions are tender and soft and take less time to cook. They appear slimmer than leeks and grow to a length of 12 inches.
100 grams of raw leeks contains; 61 calories, 14.15 grams of carbohydrates, 0.3 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of protein. They also contain Vitamin A, B1, B2, 3,5,6,9, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K, Magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
100 grams of green onion contains; 32 calories, fat-0.2 grams, sodium-10mg, potassium-276 mg, carbohydrates-7gm, and protein- 1.8 gm. They also contain Vitamin B, B6, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
How To Prepare
Leeks can be cooked or eaten raw. Raw leeks are used in salads. To prepare leek salad, wash them well, paying attention to the areas between layers as they contain soil particles. Chop them into small pieces and mix with other ingredients.
The chopped pieces will separate into small rings, as layers disentangle. You can boil leeks for a more tender texture, fry them for crunchiness or grill them. They are used for garnishing, caramelization, braising, soups, and filling dumplings and tostadas, and tortillas. They go well with rice, potatoes, corn, and cornmeal.
Green onions can be eaten raw in salads and toppings. They are bitter and would be better off combined with sweet ingredients. You can use raw green onions to garnish and stir fry your dishes. Green onions can also be grilled and eaten as a side dish. In Mexico, green onions are stir-fried with coconut and served with rice. They are also topped with lime juice and served with Estado dishes. In the Philippines, green onions are ground together with ginger and chili to form a spice.
Leeks have several health benefits;
- They contain antibacterial and antiviral properties that help in fighting infections and diseases.
- They contain antioxidants, useful in protecting body cells from damage.
- They have anti-inflammatory properties that aid in fighting arthritis.
- They contain anti-aging properties and may help slow aging signs such as wrinkles.
- They may help in heart health and control blood sugar and blood pressure.
- Leeks have laxative properties that help with bowel movements improving symptoms of constipation and bloating.
- Leeks are diuretic and may increase the rate of urination which helps in preventing kidney damage.
- They contain antiseptic properties that may help in the treatment of minor wounds.
- They may help prevent the growth of cancer cells due to the antioxidants found in them.
- Leeks, like many other vegetables, have no cholesterol. Consuming them may help prevent weight gain and obesity.
Alliums share many health benefits. The health of green onions includes;
- They contain antioxidants essential in maintaining healthy cells
- They may have anti-cancer properties.
- Green onions have low calories and do not contain cholesterol and thus may help fight obesity.
- Green onions contain high amounts of calcium which is good for bone health.
- They also contain phytochemicals that might aid in healthy blood.
- They contain antioxidants and antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties essential in keeping the body healthy.
Side Effects Of Leeks And Green Onions
Alliums have laxative properties and may trigger Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS). Persons with IBS should avoid consuming alliums in large numbers. Alliums could also trigger allergic reactions such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, skin irritation and redness, swelling, hives, and stomach upsets.
Storing Leeks And Green Onions
You may consider refrigerating leeks and onions. For longer shelf life, freeze them. Wash your alliums properly, dry them up, put them in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag and then refrigerate or freeze. If they start turning color, develop a pungent odor, or get moldy, it might indicate that they are unfit for consumption.
To sum up, leeks and green onions are alliums belonging to two different plant families. They have several similarities and differences that can help you tell them apart.