Updated: Nov 14
The star of the edible flowers, king of the garden plants, with a succulent heart to fall for!
The globe artichoke is a fascinating vegetable. The first time I tasted it, I remember that it was not love at first sight. However, I quickly developed a taste for artichokes and I have just loved them ever since. There is nothing like a freshly boiled artichoke as it is very different from those preserved in oil or canned. The texture of the flesh is simply unique. Very delicate is the earthy flavour, this is why it is best combined with tasty ingredients. Artichoke hearts are delicious on pizza, with creamy pasta, in a salad and dipped in a tasty Dijon dressingThe artichoke, originating from the Mediterranean, has been a staple in this region's cuisine for centuries. In Québec, you can find them in the vegetable section all year in most supermarkets (imported), but they can be pricy. There are a few farms producing them in the province, but they can only be cultivated as annuals as the artichoke is not adapted to the climate of the Canadian winter. In Australia, many varieties of plants can be cultivated as perennials and they are very hardy. I’ve been growing them successfully in the cool climate region where we live, but I can only enjoy fresh ones once a year in spring. They sound unusual to many people here, so they are rarely available in grocery shops but I’ve noticed other gardeners and growers producing them. The rest of the year, I use pickled ones, which can also be easy and delicious to add to some recipes, salads or grazing platters.
Garden artichokes cooking time • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2016-21
GROWING & COOKING TIPS
Growing artichoke is relatively easy if you live in a suitable climate and have enough space for it. One plant will produce 4 to 6 buds (sometimes more) each spring and survive winters that do not go down too much under 0 degrees. As a perennial, it does not require much care once established, but a significant thing to look at is pest control. I do this naturally by growing coriander, borage and leek all around it. If the artichoke plant is happy where it has been positioned, it can live for years and produce many suckers. I planted my first artichoke on the farm where I first lived in Batlow (more than five years ago), and the plant is still huge and producing very well. Lucky me, the owner is my mother-in-law and she still saves me all the buds (my Aussie family has not yet found the taste for it, so I get them all for me)!
Artichoke still life styling • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2021
When you know how little the edible portion of a bud is and how this is very little compared to the plant size, one meter high at least, harvested once a year, you understand its high value much better. You must also love artichokes to grow them in a smaller backyard. But on the plus side, if only grown for ornamental purposes, it is also worth it as they make stunning arrangements in bouquets and still-life styling. When the artichoke bloom opens up it is too late to harvest for eating, but the flower is quite spectacular. The stunning sizeable purple flower makes a great amusement park for bees. I usually leave the last one to them. When harvesting, the artichoke needs to be at least as big as a tennis ball, and the stem cut about 8 cm off the bud. It is best to cook when fresh, but can be stored in the fridge crisper for a few days. Once cooked, it is better to eat soon, or the next day at the latest. The edible parts of the artichoke contain high levels of antioxidants and various health benefits, another great reason to fall in love with it. If you have never prepared or tasted it, try this simple recipe: Boiled Artichoke.
Artichoke for the table or as ornamental • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2018-2022
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