They're available at local farmers market throughout Toronto and if you've never tried them, now's the time. I would describe the flavour as somewhere in between onions and garlic. If you love a savory cocktail (and I count myself among those who do) this will probably change your world. This week we have a simple recipe for pickling your leeks and using them to make a Wild Leek Gibson. I included some footage and photos from a day of foraging a few years ago.
If you want to bypass the market and forage your own leeks (it's really fun) you'll need to know what you're looking for. A wild leek or ramp has two lovely green petals with a pink stem and white bulb on the bottom. We were very lucky to have access to an 100 acre property about an hour north of Toronto, that is covered in leeks in the spring.
Did I mention the spiders? I did. I'll say it again, so many huge spiders!
Even if you buy them at the market you'll need to wash them very thoroughly. They won't have any pesticides, which is great but slugs and spiders love to live on the leeks. The mud clings to them as well.
Trim the greens and buzz them up with some olive oil and salt. Freeze them in muffin tins lined with cling film. Throw them in soups or on pasta. The bulbs are what we're after here.
When pickled, these leeks make a delicious Gibson. They are easy to make (recipe below) and worth canning, they are very pricey at the market so you'll want them to last.
Wild Leek Gibson
1 3/4 oz gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth
1 pickled wild leek
*dirty, add 1 dash pickling liquid
In a mixing glass add gin and vermouth , (*& pickling liquid), fill 3/4 with ice, stir to chill, strain into a martini glass, garnish with leek
Pickled Wild Leeks
4 C leeks, trimmed bulbs only
2 C cider vinegar
1 C white vinegar
3/4 c sugar
3 tbsp pickling salt
3 tbsp pickling spice (buy one premixed or make your own)
In a large pot add all ingredients excepting leeks, bring to the boil, add leeks, reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Pack in HOT sterilized jars, simmer in water bath until sealed, cool.
These instructions assume a familiarity with canning. If you've never canned before you'll need more information. I lost some batches of fruit when I first started, I was sad, so very sad. Here are a few links for canning basics to help you avoid the same mistakes.
Have you tried our leeks at an event in the past? How does making your own compare?