The edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and light green stalk. The onion-like layers form around a core. The tender core may be eaten; but, as the leek ages, the core becomes woody and very chewy and better replanted than eaten.
Leek has a mild onion-like taste, although less bitter than scallion. The taste might be described as a mix of mild onion and cucumber. It has a fresh smell similar to scallion. In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm.