The Musselburgh leek was originally imported from France and first cultivated in the town of Musselburgh in Scotland. This area of Scotland is not renowned for its mild weather and this variety of leek is perfectly suited to the very cold winters in this area.
It was first grown in Scotland in the 1830's where it was sold in local markets. It is no longer grown commercially because it does take quite a long time to mature. Its cultivation spread to the UK and now other parts of world – it is now very popular in parts of the US.
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF MUSSELBURGH LEEK
The white stems are shorter than average but this more than made up for by their thickness. The leafy tops are dark green and stocky. If you live in a cold part of the UK then this variety is for you, it will withstand long periods of freezing cold easily. Leave one or two to run to seed in April time and Musselburgh will produce a glorious ball of wispy flowers. If you let the seeds ripen they can be used next year and will come true to the Musselburgh variety.
The taste is sweet and the texture is perfect for cooking. This variety is suitable both for winter sowing under glass and spring sowing directly in the soil. When winter sown Musselburgh will produce a crop of smallish leeks perfect for salads in August. Spring sown seed will produce a first crop in December, more than early enough for Christmas dinner and they will keep perfectly in the soil until April.
BUYING MUSSELBURGH LEEK SEED
Musselburgh is so widely available that it can be found at almost all seed merchants. The DIY stores and some of the supermarkets (try Aldi around March time) sell them at a discount. They can be found at almost all garden centres. This is a good seed to buy out of season in the sales because it will keep for four years. Click here to buy these seeds at Suttons.
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF MUSSELBURGH LEEKS
USE: As a main crop leek but also baby leeks in salads
FOLIAGE COLOUR / TEXTURE: Dark green and rather coarse
FLESH COLOUR: Creamy white
TASTE AND TEXTURE:: Excellent sweet taste, mild
FRUIT SIZE: Large, the white stem is not particularly long but it does grow thicker than most
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: A very reliable variety that has stood the test of time dating back to the 1830s
SPECIAL FEATURES: Excellent resistance to cold. Over the years the variety has changed and mutated. Nowadays there are differences in the characteristics of Musselburgh leeks depending on the seed company which produced it.