A heart for the taking
Artichokes stand out among other vegetables. You have to work to enjoy the refined flavor of artichokes, because it is not always easy to reach their two edible parts: the base of the leaves and the heart, well-hidden under the choke, which must be carefully removed before eating.
A fibrous vegetable
Artichokes are naturally rich in fiber, notably inulin, a soluble fiber that gives the vegetable a slightly sweet taste. Characterized as a ‘prebiotic’, inulin is fermented by the good bacteria in the colon. Inulin allows the bacteria to develop and provide health benefits, in particular the regulation of bowel function. Another advantage of inulin: it is thought to help people better absorb certain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
A range of antioxidants
The edible parts of the artichoke contain a wide variety of antioxidants, such as certain phenolic compounds, anthocyanins, and caratenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. It is worth noting that numerous studies on eye disease prevention (cataracts, macular degeneration linked to age, etc.) have focused on caretenoids.
Artichokes are also a source of:
- vitamin B9 (for cellular renewal, particularly important for pregnant women for fetal development, growing children, and convalescents).
- potassium (for the nervous system, muscular function, and blood pressure)
When is the right
time to eat them?
Artichokes are available year-round, but their high season lasts from March to September.!
Vegetable patch or
Artichokes are perennials that grow best in cool, well-drained, and neutral (pH = 7) soil rich in humus, in a sunny spot, conditions that are hard to bring together on an urban patio.
To learn everything you need to know about growing artichokes, read the page on to growing advice. Click here for more growing advice.
Choose your artichokes well:
- When purchasing artichokes, carefully look at the head, examining the leaves and also the stem.
- Choose dense heads with tightly packed leaves (or even slightly sharp leaves for purple artichokes) without spots.
- Take a good look at the stem: a fresh stem is slightly damp with a vibrant color. Do not cut it off immediately, as it helps preserve the artichoke.
Properly store your artichokes:
- Store them for as short a time as possible in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Ideally, artichokes should be cooked the very day of purchase because artichokes are particularly delicate and lose their nutritional benefits very quickly.
- Once cooked, artichokes should be eaten within 24 hours. While they do not become poisonous, as is often said, their sensory characteristics change, and they become less pleasant to eat.
How to prepare artichokes
Raw: Only some small varieties can be eaten raw, such as the violet de Provence, the fiesole, and the tudela. They can be marinated in oil, added to a sauté, or even used as a pizza topping. And you can eat the whole thing!
Cooked: Large artichokes need to be cooked, and only the heart and the base of the leaves are edible. To cook an artichoke, you need only expend a little bit of effort (though eating it takes more). It can be steamed or cooked in a pressure cooker in 10 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetable.
Tip for knowing if an artichoke is cooked: Pull on a leaf. If it comes off easily, the artichoke is cooked.
It goes well with…
Try a cooked artichoke heart with nothing more than a tasty vinaigrette enhanced with mustard, crushed walnuts, and herbs, or with a spiced vegetable coulis. Artichoke hearts are a choice pizza topping. They also go well with pork, omelets, and salad. They also make a delicious purée.
Recommendation: If you use canned artichoke hearts, drain them well before cooking with them.
Remember: The artichoke flower is not edible, and nor is the choke!
In purée form, artichokes can be eaten as soon as babies begin eating a varied diet (at around six months). Babies generally like artichokes. If that is not the case, don’t force them to eat it, but offer it to them again a few days later. After trying it only a few times, your babies generally like it better and will eat it more willingly.
For children, eating with their fingers and licking the leaves makes eating artichokes fun. Furthermore, eating with their hands helps children learn to appreciate new textures. Good to know!
And everyone else
Elderly people should eat artichoke hearts (sautéed, puréed, or with a vinaigrette) rather than the leaves, which are not always easy to eat for people with dentures.
Possible digestive issues: people with an irritable bowel can have trouble tolerating inulin. If this is the case, ask a health professional for advice.
Origins: World artichoke production is 90% concentrated in Mediterranean countries (Italy, Egypt, and Spain). Other production is distributed between areas with similar climates (northern Argentina, California, New Zealand, Chile, Venezuela, and Peru).
Varieties: Each region has its own varieties that range from white (for cooking) to purple (more tender, can be eaten raw).