Musselburgh leeks are a short variety with thick white stems. They differ from the “London leek” that have more evenly spaced leaves around the stem. Soils that are fertile, rich and well drained provide ideal growing conditions for leeks. Lowland soils have these characteristics and are, therefore, important areas. Leeks should ideally be planted outdoors in May and can be harvested from September to March.
This variety is well known for being robust, and is often grown for winter hardiness. Some seed specialists have noted the ability of this leek variety to survive even under periods of extreme snow conditions. Leeks have been grown within Scotland since the Middle Ages, and the Musselburgh leek was introduced to market in 1834 from the area of Musselburgh. They are the essential vegetable for cock-a-leekie soup, a traditional Scottish national dish.
Production of Musselburgh leeks within Scotland is currently at low levels, but there are signs of slight local resurgence. Currently, they are mainly available in seed or plant form. The availability of fresh leeks on the market ready for consumers is very limited resulting in many consumers being unaware of their existence, which in turn creates a very low demand for the vegetable considering their important history.
This is not currently available to buy as a vegetable but only as a seed to plant yourself as some Slow Food Chef Alliance Members have done.