The globe artichoke plant (called globe for the shape of the bud) grows 3 to 5 feet tall, producing edible, slightly nutty-flavored, flower buds reaching up to six inches in diameter. Once the flower matures, the artichoke becomes inedible so the buds are harvested by hand before flowering.
The Jerusalem artichoke (a root vegetable) and the Chinese or Japanese artichoke are completely different, unrelated plants.
In warm climates, the artichoke is grown as a perennial; in cool climates, as an annual. The small purple Provenćal artichoke is the only variety of over a dozen that can be eaten raw, since it has an underdeveloped choke.
How to Eat an Artichoke
To eat the cooked artichoke, simply pull off each leaf and draw the base of the leaf through your teeth to scrape off the soft portion, discarding the rest of the leaf. As you progress upward from the base, the leaves become more tender, with larger edible portions until you reach the choke (the undeveloped flower). Remove and discard the "hairy" choke, then dive into the hidden treasure known as the heart.
Artichoke Cooking Tips
• Although baking, boiling and steaming are the most popular cooking methods for the basic stand-alone artichoke, it can be used to enhance many dishes as you will see in the featured artichoke recipes linked below.
• Most people are content to eat cooked artichoke virtually unadorned, perhaps seasoned with some garlic and olive oil with a clarified butter dip.
• Use a stainless steel knife to trim the artichoke and avoid iron or aluminum cooking pots to which can cause discoloration.
• A light spray of lemon juice will prevent darkening of trimmed artichokes awaiting preparation.
• Pressure-cooking is a quick and easy way to prepare artichokes. Artichokes are fully cooked when a bottom leaf can easily be pulled from the base.
• Raw hearts should be cooked in acidulated (lemon juice or vinegar) water.
• Don't throw away the stems. Peel them and cook along with the artichokes. Eat hot or chill and slice into salads or pasta dishes.
More About Artichokes and Artichoke Recipes:
|•||The California Artichoke Cookbook|
|•||Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven|
|•||The Whole Foods Companion|
|•||The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook|