Lacto Leeks

Recipe 15 minPreparation Time 2 to 4 weeks fermenting timeCooking Time
Lacto Leeks

Lacto Leeks

15 minPreparation Time 2 to 4 weeks fermenting time Cooking Time

About this Recipe

This simple pickle was the happy result of a bumper crop in the garden a few years ago. The leeks’ natural sharpness and umami are enhanced by fermentation — these are pungent pickles — and they bring an addictive, tangy depth to anything they’re combined with.

The Benefits

Leeks contain fiber and several potent antioxidants, particularly kaempferol, which may have anti-cancer properties. Fermenting them makes this a great source for probiotics as well, promoting gut health and boosting immunity.

Note: For safe fermentation, the use of a metric scale is highly encouraged. It’s extremely easy to calculate 2.5% of the total weight using grams, not very easy at all using ounces, and impossible using cups and teaspoons. You will need a 1-qt (950-ml) wide-mouth Mason jar fitted with a fermentation weight. 


Makes about 1 pint
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) leeks, washed and dark green parts removed
  • Fine sea salt


  1. Step 1
    Dice the leeks into roughly 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) pieces. Put a large bowl on your scale and zero it, then add the leeks, recording their weight. Weigh out 2.5% of the leeks’ weight in salt and add it to the large bowl, mixing it thoroughly and kneading the mixture with your hands so that the leeks begin to shed liquid. Keep kneading and stirring for a few minutes until the mixture is quite wet and a squeezed fistful drips readily.
  2. Step 2
    Pack the leeks into your jar, using the handle of a wooden spoon or similar tool, leaving at least an inch of space at the top. Insert the weight and loosely lid the jar so gases can escape. Leave the jar on your kitchen counter overnight and check the liquid level the next day. It should fully cover the leeks. If it doesn’t, add a big pinch of salt to a little water and add that until there’s at least half an inch of water on top of the leeks.
  3. Step 3
    Move the jar to a cool place (55˚ to 60˚F/12.5˚ to 15.5˚C) for about a month, checking it periodically to make sure the leeks remain covered in liquid. If evaporation lowers the water level, pour in a little salty water to top it up (the exact ratio of this tiny addition doesn’t matter; just make sure it’s salty). If you don’t have a spot that cool, expect these to be ready in 2 to 3 weeks, but check them regularly.

Substitutions: Any member of the allium family (whole pearl or cippolini onions, whole garlic cloves, thin rings of larger onions, etc.)

Level Up: Try adding different spices to the jar, especially if there’s a combination with a flavor profile (Caribbean, South Asian, Korean) you use frequently

Try It With: These are fantastic mixed into sauces, vinaigrettes, dips, or anything else that wants a tangy, funky edge

Zero Waste: Leek greens are excellent in stocks