If you’ve never tried an artichoke and you noticed one at the grocery store, you might not know where to start. Artichokes look a little like a vegetable meets a pine cone. How are you supposed to eat that?
They aren’t the most intuitive vegetables to deal with, but they do pack a lot of interesting and deep flavor. In this article, we’ll look at artichokes: what they are, what they taste like, and how you can best enjoy them for yourself.
What Are Artichokes?
According to a Greek myth, the first artichoke was a woman that Zeus, the king of the Gods, promoted to a goddess. Changing his mind suddenly about the woman he had so quickly elevated, he punished her by sending her back to earth in the form of an artichoke.
Artichokes are one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world, dating back to 8000 BC in the Mediterranean. The first artichokes were probably cultivated in Sicily or North Africa.
An important part of Italian cuisine, artichokes have a special place in food in all of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea, where it first flourished.
Artichokes were first introduced to Britain through Dutch traders, and they were imported and grown in the Americas after that.
Artichokes are not really vegetables – they are flower buds. If artichokes are left to take their natural course, they develop fully into bright purple flowers that look similar to a close relative – the milk thistle.
Instead of allowing artichokes to bloom, we pick them when they are still green and immature for food.
Although there are more than 100 different varieties of artichoke, the vast majority that you see in grocery stores belong to a single species – the green globe artichoke. In the United States, artichokes are grown almost exclusively in California.
What Do Artichokes Look Like?
Artichokes are about the size of a softball on average and resemble a pinecone with overlapping green leaves in a spiral around the central sprout. The green leaves are flat but thick, and the heart of the artichoke is protected inside.
If you spot artichokes in the grocery store, you might be wondering what you’re supposed to do with a vegetable like this, but it’s not as complicated as it seems, and before you know it you’ll be enjoying the rich and complex flavors of artichoke at home.
What Texture Do Artichokes Have?
Raw artichokes have a crunchy texture, with the leaves on the outside being the toughest and stringiest. The lower down the leaves are and the closer they are to the heart of the artichoke, the softer and more flavorful they will be.
Cooked artichoke has a softer and mellow texture, with even less fibrousness. When artichokes are cooked correctly, their texture is soft and creamy, without becoming slimy or mushy.
Types Of Artichokes
There are more than 100 different varieties of artichokes in the world, but only a fraction of them are cultivated and sold commercially for food. Of these, the most popular by far is the green globe artichoke, which is probably what you see in your local grocery store.
Here are some more popular kinds of artichokes
- Green Globe
- Big Heart
- Baby Anzio
- Carciofo Romanesco
Where Do Artichokes Come From?
First cultivated in the Mediterranean basin, artichokes prefer a warm but mild temperature with long growing seasons and little variation.
Italy and Greece were perfect for artichoke cultivation. Italy is still one of the world’s largest producers of artichokes, followed by Egypt and Spain.
In the United States, almost all of the artichokes grown are cultivated in California, which has a climate similar to the Mediterranean.
If you buy your artichokes in North America, there is a good chance that they are coming from California.
Are Artichokes Healthy?
Artichokes are some of the healthiest vegetables you can find. They are low in fat and packed with protein, fiber, nutrients and antioxidants.
They are especially high in vitamin C and K, as well as folate which is vital for pregnant women. Every bite of an artichoke is filled with important nutrients, including potassium, iron and magnesium.
A single artichoke contains an average of 1/4 of all of the fiber you need that day!
Eating enough fiber helps keep your gut healthy, keeps you regular, and promotes growth and diversity in your micro biome so you can get the best nutrient absorption possible and get the most out of the food you eat.
With only 60 calories per medium artichoke and 4 grams of protein, artichokes will fill your stomach and keep you feeling full without adding to your calorie count.
There are further studies that link extracts from artichokes, including artichoke leaves, to positive health outcomes like reduced “bad” cholesterol and increased “good cholesterol,” lowered blood sugar, reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and even anticancer properties – although it is not known whether any of these benefits accrue just from eating artichokes rather than taking the extract.
What Are The Dangers Of Eating Artichokes?
Artichokes are a healthy addition to most people’s diets, but there are some risks and artichokes are not for everyone.
Some people are allergic to artichokes and should avoid them. If you are allergic to flowers that are related to artichokes, including sunflowers, daisies, and chrysanthemums, there is a higher chance that you have an allergy to artichokes so you should be on your guard.
People with gallstones, or bile duct obstructions, shouldn’t eat artichokes. There are compounds in artichokes that stimulate bile production and movement, which can make these conditions worse.
If you are pregnant, you might want to avoid excessive consumption of artichokes and artichoke extract, simply because there isn’t a lot of data on this issue.
How Do You Eat Artichokes?
The artichoke presents an intimidating challenge to the novice chef. Where to begin? How should something like this be cooked? How should it be eaten?
You can eat artichokes raw, although they are tougher, crunchier, and more bitter this way.
You can really only access the heart of the artichoke and the bottoms of the petals, but you get that fresh crunch and you can bite into your artichoke right away.
Steaming artichokes takes between 20 and 40 minutes, softening and mellowing the flavors without changing them too substantially.
Baked artichokes take at least 40 minutes, and taste even more mellow and balanced, with a “baked-in” flavor.
There are countless more ways to eat artichokes, and all you have to do is look through a traditional Italian cookbook to get plenty of suggestions.
Artichoke dips are very popular, but artichokes can be added to many different dishes including soups, stews, and pasta to provide a rich vegetal flavor.
How Can I Store Artichokes?
Raw artichokes can turn bad quickly, and it can be a pain to store them for later use. If you can help it, it’s best to buy your artichokes shortly before you plan to use them.
If you find yourself with artichokes that you’re not ready to eat yet, you just need to follow a couple of steps before you throw them in the fridge.
First, don’t wash or rinse the artichokes before storing them. Instead, sprinkle a tiny amount of water on top and seal them in a plastic bag. They should last for 5-7 days in your refrigerator.
Can You freeze Artichokes?
You can freeze cooked artichokes, but not raw ones.
Raw artichokes put in the freezer will turn mushy and brown, and lose all of the flavor and texture that you are trying so hard to preserve.
If you want to keep your artichokes in the freezer, steam them first and pat them dry beforehand. In a properly sealed plastic bag, cooked artichokes should last 1-3 months in your freezer.
How To Tell Artichokes Are Bad?
Artichokes, the thistle family members, are notoriously difficult to tell if they are bad.
If they are too big, they are likely past their prime. On the other hand, they were picked too early if they were too small.
The best way to tell if an artichoke is bad is to smell it. If it smells like it has gone bad, then it is bad.
How Can I Pick Artichokes In A Grocery Store?
Artichokes are green and leafy vegetables that make them a great addition to soup and salad.
While buying it from the grocery store, always look for artichokes with no yellow leaves.
The color should be bright green with a rounded top.
How To Ripen Artichokes?
Artichokes are not easy to ripen as they are tough, which makes them difficult to peel off.
- To make them tender, you may try the following steps:
- Steam the artichokes in a steamer.
- Boil it for 35-45 minutes.
- Wait for them to become fork-tender.
Now your Artichokes are ready to get ripen.
How To Open Artichokes?
When you buy an artichoke, they come with a paper towel. Therefore, you must use a paper towel to remove the tough outer leaves before cutting the artichoke’s top off.
Once you have cut the top off, use a spoon to scrape the leaves off the bottom of the artichoke.
Once you have removed all the leaves, use a knife to remove the rigid center of the artichoke.
Can You Grow Artichokes?
- You may think you cannot grow artichokes, but it is possible. You may use the below-given step to produce them.
- The trick is to use a mixture of three parts of gravel, one part of sand, and one part of the soil.
- This mixture is then spread out over the ground to create a bed that is six inches deep and the right size for the artichokes.
- They should be planted with their points facing up and the roots slightly buried in the mixture.
- The soil should be watered with a sprinkler every day and left alone until they are about six inches high.
- Then they should be fertilized once a week with a mixture of half-and-half manure and bone meal.
- When the artichokes are ready to harvest, they should be pulled from the ground, and the tops cut off.
|Per 1 medium artichoke, 128g raw, 120g cooked, According to Healthline.com|
|Vitamin C||25% of the RDI||15% of the RDI|
|Vitamin K||24% of the RDI||22% of the RDI|
|Thiamine||6% of the RDI||5% of the RDI|
|Riboflavin||5% of the RDI||6% of the RDI|
|Niacin||7% of the RDI||7% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B6||11% of the RDI||5% of the RDI|
|Folate||22% of the RDI||27% of the RDI|
|Iron||9% of the RDI||4% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||19% of the RDI||13% of the RDI|
|Phosphorous||12% of the RDI||9% of the RDI|
|Potassium||14% of the RDI||10% of the RDI|
|Calcium||6% of the RDI||3% of the RDI|
|Zinc||6% of the RDI||3% of the RDI|
Quick Table: Artichokes Recipes
|Spinach And Artichoke Grilled Cheese||352||15 minutes|
|Artichoke Risotto||449||45 minutes|
|Hot, Cheesy, Crab, Spinach, And Artichoke Dip||78||1 hour|
This grilled cheese sandwich is a notch above the rest, with artichoke contributing a vegetal bitterness and spinach offering a slight sweetness as a contrast. This recipe is easy to make but packed with nutrition.
It’s a grilled cheese sandwich for a sophisticated adult and one that you’ll be just as happy enjoying by yourself on a Saturday afternoon as you are sharing it with friends on a Friday night.
The artichoke flavor melds surprisingly well with cheese. If you have never had a cheesy artichoke, this is your opportunity to sample this incredible flavor combination.
Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes
This classically elegant and infamously difficult-to-make Italian rice dish is even more delicious with the rich and subtle flavors of artichokes.
If you’re not already a fan of risotto or an amateur chef, be aware that making risotto will take at least a full afternoon of your life, and possibly more if you get it wrong and force yourself to start over.
Slowly stirring the risotto to keep the rice from sticking as it absorbs the stock is a painstaking process, but your reward is a creamy and rich rice dish featuring a strong and complex artichoke flavor.
Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes
There’s nothing like a really good artichoke dip and this recipe is one of the best. Mixing cheese, spinach, artichoke, and crab along with some heat, you’ll want to make this for yourself at least once a week when you’re not serving it to your family or friends on a movie night or dinner party.
Artichokes provide a deep and interesting flavor that settles into a dip nicely and brushing up against other rich flavors like cheese, crab, white wine, and sour cream only brings out the incredible taste of artichokes.
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Artichoke Taste Like Meat?
No, the flavor of artichokes is vegetal and earthy, similar to other vegetables like brussels sprouts, asparagus, celery, and turnip.
Although artichokes have a higher-than-normal amount of protein for vegetables and can be cooked to become soft and tender, they don’t taste much like meat at all, which is one reason they are never used as a meat replacement.
What’s The Best Way To Eat Artichokes?
There is no right way to eat artichokes! You can eat them raw, boil them, steam them, bake them, fry them, and more!
You’ll have to try all the different ways it is possible to eat artichokes before you can decide for yourself which one is the best.
Are Artichokes Sweet Or Sour?
Artichokes are neither sweet nor sour. They have a nutty, slightly vegetal taste that is savory and not sweet. There is a slight bitterness to raw artichokes, but this is not sour.
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