Artichokes are in Season

comments (0) May 29th, 2019

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cookinwithherbs susan belsinger, contributor
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The artichoke is not really a vegetable--it is a thistle. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Artichokes should be firm and bright green--not brown or soft.
To trim an artichoke to get down to the edible heart, first pull of the outer leaves. Have a bowl of acidulated water (water with the juice of a lemon) ready since they turn dark.
Once you have all of the leaves snapped off, cut the stem off flush with the base of the heart and rub the bottom of the heart with lemon juice.
Holding your paring knife at a 45-degree angle, pare off the leaf stubs around the bottom of the heart. then rub with lemon juice.
With a sharp knife, cut the top of the choke off--about the top two-thirds should be removed--so that you can get to the choke easily.
With the paring knife, trim the outer edges off the top part of the choke at a 45-degree angle.
Next, take the tip of your knife and run it around the inner part of the trimmed artichoke bottom to remove the choke.
Put the trimmed artichoke hearts into acidulated water until ready to use. At this point they can be steamed or roasted to use whole, or they can be sliced and sauteed or steamed to be used in recipes.
I slice them across and saute them to use in pasta dishes, pizza, salads and more.
There is a lot of waste when trimming artichokes--this is all tough and needs to be removed--so that all is left is the tender heart: a gourmet delight. This all goes in the compost.
The artichoke is not really a vegetable--it is a thistle. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.Click To Enlarge

The artichoke is not really a vegetable--it is a thistle. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.

Photo: susan belsinger

Spring is the season for asparagus and artichokes, rhubarb and strawberries, spring onions and baby salad greens and foraged wild weeds. It is a joyous time in the garden as well as in the kitchen-with so many delightful flavors and textures. I don't think that folks eat enough artichokes. Perhaps, some have just never eaten one, or do not know how to prepare them.

Therefore, I'm going to show you how to prepare an artichoke getting right down to the heart of them. Getting to the heart of the matter is not hard, just a little time consuming. There are many food preparations that take time; I look at it as being meditative and ceremonious.

We think of artichokes (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) as a vegetable, however they are a kind of thistle. Native to the Mediterranean, artichokes have long been used for their medicinal virtues. Their bitter properties improve digestion and are purported to support liver and heart health and lower blood sugar levels.

According to, "Artichokes are low in fat while rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Particularly high in folate and vitamins C and K, they also supply important minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron."

I grew artichokes when I lived in Italy, where they loved the climate. I bought and ate a lot of them when I lived in California. I tried growing them one summer in Maryland (zone 7) and harvested only a few artichokes in that season; next time I'd plant them earlier. If you want to try your hand at growing artichokes, here are a few blogs from vegetable gardener contributors.

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