Each year we have an abundance of globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) growing in the garden and we often get asked by farm visitors how to prepare and eat them. We are happy to share what we do and would love to hear from you how you prepare them at home by leaving a comment below.
Globe artichokes are a type of thistle. They are one of those foods that are truly nourishing and healing as well. A true “food-is-your-medicine” plant.
They are nutritious, providing an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K, and folate, a very good source of vitamin C and magnesium, and a good source of manganese and potassium. Artichokes are an excellent source of antioxidants, which work to help protect against many health risks. Artichoke hearts are low in fat and calories. “They contain a number of phytonutrients, which appear to have diuretic properties, detoxifying the liver, boosting gall bladder function, and improving bile flow. Widely used in traditional medicine as a remedy for water retention and liver ailments, globe artichokes are thought to aid digestion and help people who experience stomach acidity. Globe artichokes also contain a lot of soluble fibre, so they won’t destabilise blood sugar levels. Some research suggests that artichoke leaf extract may also help ease irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.” (source)
The part eaten is the immature flower buds from the globe artichokes. The plants can grow up to 1.5-2 metres high and have beautiful purple flowers that attracts many bees. So make sure to only harvest a portion of the flower buds and leave some for the bees.
We generally like to cook and serve the whole artichoke. It has a lovely delicate, creamy flavour, that can be overpowered by other flavours, therefore we love to eat it as is without any dipping sauce as often suggested. The most complimentary seasonings for an artichoke is olive oil, lemon, parsley, salt, and pepper.
So here is our way to prepare the artichokes:
Trim the spiky leaves off the top of the artichoke like in the above picture and add them to a pot. We like to keep the about 5-8 cm of stem on the artichokes as it also tastes delicious.
Add one tsp of salt and optionally a squeeze of lemon juice. Add enough water to cover the artichokes about half way. Cover the pot and cook for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size). Pierce the stem and center with a knife and check if it is tender. The inner leaves should pull off easily.
Now pull the outer leaves off one by one and scrape it across your lower teeth to get the tender tip off.
The edible portion of each leaf increases as you get further towards the center of the artichoke. When you get to the below stage, the whole leaf is soft and tender and can be fully eaten.
When you break that part off you get the heart and stem on the left (see below picture) and the fully edible leaves on the right.
The heart is the meaty part in the center. It tastes creamy, sweet and delicate. It can be added to almost any dish and is often marinated.
I hope you found this blog interesting and will start to look our for artichoke seedlings in a nursery or for whole artichokes in the supermarket or health food store.