Gardening Articles: Health :: Cooking

Using and Preserving the Other Alliums (page 2 of 2)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Leeks

Leeks are the king of soup onions and are regarded in France as the asparagus of the poor. The patron saint of Wales, Saint David, exhorted his countrymen who were faithful to King Cadwaldr to distinguish themselves from their Saxon foes by wearing a leek in their caps. Even now on Saint David's Day, March 1, Welshmen sport leeks, the emblem of Wales, on their lapels.

To prepare leeks for cooking, trim off the roots, remove any bruised or dried leaves and cut off tops, leaving only the white stem and tender part of the green leaves. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise starting a couple of inches below the top of the white portion, and continuing right through the remaining green portion. Spread the layers slightly and wash the leeks very carefully, flushing water down into the white part to remove dirt that accumulated as the leeks grew. Then slice the leeks as directed by your recipe.

Removing the Aroma

If the smell of onions on your hands bothers you after you've been cooking with them, try rubbing your hands with a few drops of lemon juice, vinegar or a little salt. If you want to clear your breath, eat some mint, a sprig of parsley or a few celery leaves. If the smell of cooking onions bothers you, light a few wooden matches. The sulfur on the matches will take the odor away.

Peeling Onions

If you're like most people, you've probably noticed that peeling and chopping onions is the quickest way to begin shedding a few tears! The fresher your onions, the more of a workout your tear ducts will get. A few easy tricks can ease or prevent the problem:

  • Breath through your mouth as you peel and slice onions.
  • Peel onions from the stem end, then chop off the root end and immediately rinse the root end of the onion in cold water.
  • Hold the onions under cold water as you peel them.
  • When peeling a lot of small onions, soak them for a few seconds in boiling water, then dunk them in cold water. The skins will then slip off easily.
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