Artichokes are not vegetables, but rather a kind of edible thistle. The bud part- also referred to as a “choke”- is picked when immature to be stripped of leaves and scales and consumed. After maturation, the bud develops into large purple florets that are too tough to be eaten. Plants grow between 1.4-2 meters tall adorned with buds covered in green-purple triangular scales.
The heart is the delicacy- found beneath the scales, leaves and other fleshy bits in between. Some compare it to the flavour/texture of an egg, but that sounds entirely creepy to me, and is possibly an insult to artichokes.
Mature plants are also grown ornamentally for their showy florescence. The edible parts are harvested most in Spring, followed by another harvest in mid-Autumn. Plants are hearty, though prefer moist, cool summers and temperate winters. Picked buds keep well for long periods of time compared to other perishables.
Artichokes are Mediterranean in origin, first utilized by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as has been documented, whom consumed both the leaves and whatever the old buds resembled. During Medieval Spain, artichokes were further cultivated to reach the aesthetic we are familiar with today. In modern times Italy, Spain, USA and Egypt are some of the largest producers of artichokes.
A healthy plant can produce around 30 chokes per season, especially when perennial. In places suffering from cooler winters, artichokes are ideally grown as an annual, to be replaced yearly as roots will not survive the heavy frosts. They can be grown from seed, cuttings or division methods. They prefer rich, well-watered soils as they require a lot of nutrition. That being said, they produce a fleshy, delectable good that is full of nutritional value.
Artichokes are the “vegetable” with the highest level of antioxidants. They are also known to reduce cholesterol, boost immune strength, lower heart disease, detox the liver, cleanse the urinary tract and even eliminate hangovers. They;re rich in basically every vitamin; C, B-6, B-12, E, A, D, K etc. and have the bioactive agents apigenin and luteolin. Artichokes are used additionally in teas and an Italain liqueur called “Cynar”.
As any edible consumed by sentient beings, artichokes are grown best completely organically for the health of both grower and growee. Keeping soils pure and healthy in turn leads to a system that is better protected from disgusting and pointless chemicals that are slowly destroying the planet from… the roots up.