Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus)… They’re a strikingly beautiful plant to grow and, when starting out, strikingly confusing to eat. This little blog’s for all you folk wondering how to wrap your mouth around this thistle – without the thistle experience.
Originating from the Mediterranean and central Asia these beauties are member of the thistle family – the edible part of the plant is the flower bud.
If you are growing them in your garden, then timing the harvest is critical to ensure you don’t end up with a mouthful of prickly thistles. You pick them when they’re quite young and undeveloped – this ensure their heart (the centre) is still soft. The image below shows a cluster of flower buds that are nice and young and good to eat.
Young artichokes ready to be picked.
The image below shows a flower bud in my garden which is a bit too far gone – I won’t pick and eat this one as it will have already developed central prickles. Instead I’ll let it flower for the bees and for some eye candy.
A more mature artichoke which will have some prickly thistles inside.
By the way, the flowers are glorious and look something like this (not my garden, but from the internet with unknown source).
If you’re sourcing them from elsewhere than we can crack with how to eat them….
First, you need to take off the outer petals as these are quite tough – you’ll end up with a small flower bud in the middle as seen below.
Do this with all of your artichokes…
The easiest way to cook them is to pop them all in a large pot and add water.
Bring them to the boil and then simmer them until soft. They’ll look like this…
They’re now ready to eat. We make a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and a nice vinegar and drizzle it over them or dip each one into a small bowl of dressing as you eat it. It’s delicious.
You’ll see below that once they’re cooked, you can easily pull them apart. On the left you have the heart and some of the stem (which is also delicious). On the right you have some petals – most of these are edible too – the tips will be a bit tough, just compost those.
We eat our artichokes with everything, last night I had scrambled eggs and artichokes for dinner – I’m a simple cook, Im sure you can do better!