Here is an article on British Leeks published November 2015 in the Countryside Magazine, who have kindly given permission for it's use. The magazine is available in all good newsagents and can also be subscribed to online by clicking the link below.
Eat it... James Rudman looks at 'fantastically versatile' British leeks
It might still be regarded as a winter veg, but British leeks are actually available to buy every month of the year, except June.
However, November to April is the period where the main volume of leeks are sold. Autumn and winter months are when 'fantastically versatile' British leeks that add 'flavour and bite' are at their best, according to the British Leeks website.
"If you're looking for a delicious, nutritious and seasonal food to see you through the winter months, something that can be roasted, baked or braised and has a sweet taste and a smooth texture then the British Leek is for you," says the website, which is run by the British Leek Growers' Association.
The leek is a member of the onion family and the version cultivated in the UK is Allium porrum. The various nutrients that leeks offer, which include manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and iron, as well as antioxidents, can even help stave off winter colds and flu.
Eating leeks regularly is also said to have other health benefits, which include antiseptic and diuretic properties,
The therapeutic benefits were recognised by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans, with Emperor Nero reputed to have thought eating leeks would enhance his singing voice.
St David, the patron saint of Wales, is also associated with leeks, a national emblem of Wales. One of the peaks in the British Leeks season is in the spring, coinciding with St David's Day.
The Welsh borders, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, parts of Lincolnshire, areas in the Midlands such as Evesham Vale, and Lancashire's black soil areas are key centres for the UK's commercial leek growing.
There are currently 10 commercial leek growers in the UK. Nearly 5,000 acres of leeks are currently commercially grown in total, producing more than 50,000 tonnes of the vegetable in the 2014/15 season.
Patrick Allpress, the British Leek Growers' Association's chairman, says it's still quite early to tell what the 2015/16 season will be like. The growing season was cold and windy in the spring, with the summer being below average in both temperature and rain. "Yields have been below average so far, but are getting better every day. If the winter is harsh, this season could be difficult. But if mild conditions allow continued growth then the season could be average with less problems," he says.
"The British Leek Growers' Association will be running its annual campaign to raise awareness among consumers of the benefits of cooking with leeks, such as their nutritional attributes and versatility as a cooking ingredient."Set to launch on 1 November, the campaign will have a strong focus on social media. The association is working with a leading food blogger to develop a new range of leek-based recipes.
For more information about British leeks, including how to cook them and recipes, visit: britishleeks.co.uk
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