Leek farming in Wales for Tesco


Video guide to leek farming in Wales

Hello, my name's Charlie Lightbown, I'm a farm manager in Wales. We've been supplying Tesco for the last 25 years. The farm here has developed as a mainly leek growing site due to the conditions which we have; we have very fertile soils, very deep soils, and fairly moist soils which are all perfect for growing leeks.

Leeks are a great crop to grow as a farmer, they're not in the same family as any other crops that are normally grown on a farm; they're the same family as onions and garlic but they don't suffer from the same pest pressures or the same diseases which means we can reduce the amounts of treatments that we put on them.

When our leeks are harvested they are taken straight from the field and put into our cold storage facilities. They're then put on chilled lorries and in the store they're put on chilled shelves. All of this really helps to maintain the freshness. You can store a leek for two to three weeks in a fridge without any problems at all.

When you go into store and you're looking to buy leeks, what do you need to look for? Leeks that are nice, shiny and bright; that indicates that it's fresh. So when you get your leek home, just nip the end off here, nip this end off, exposing all the rings of leeks and then just take the outer skin off, like this. Then you run it under the water just to get rid of any external soiling that there may be.

If I want to use just as a vegetable side dish, I'd just slice it into rings like this. However if I would like to use it for a casserole or a quiche, I would cut it down the middle longitudinally, like this, and then slice it like this. All the little bits, they just fall apart very easily. Once I've done this, I put it in a colander, rinse it under a tap and then I'm ready to use it.

Personally, I use an awful lot of leeks; I use leeks wherever you'd use onions. Put them in a pan with some butter and just let them sweat slowly. That tends to bring out the sweetness of the leek without losing the oniony taste of the leek. My favourite leek recipe is leek and chicken pie; it's a really hearty recipe. When I come home after harvesting leeks in the cold all day, nothing tastes better, to be honest.

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