Globe artichokes are pretty crazy looking
plants, available June to November. You
either love their huge bristliness or just
find them freaky. With long purple tufts
sprouting out of their tops around this time
of the year (see photo on the right), they
are a form of giant thistle, but you can eat
them. Inside the scaled and pointy globes
of the plant is a soft and edible heart. It's
a dramatic plant in any garden, and is a
perennial allotment favourite. Getting the
heart out is a bit of a faff but worth it for its
delicate taste when fresh.
Sophie Conran in Country Living (July
2016) spoke of the artichoke as being one
of her preferred seasonal flavours, "It's a
member of the thistle family. We eat just
the flower bud, but if allowed to bloom,
it will produce thistle-like purple flowers.
My favourite way to eat them is trimmed
and boiled whole, the fleshy base of each
leaf dipped in seasoned melted butter.
Prize off the flesh, discarding the leaf,
then remove the choke and enjoy the
heart with more butter. The younger buds
are fantastic stuffed and braised, or sliced
and eaten raw in salad."
To extract the heart at home, chop
the head of the plant off, put it in water
and boil it. Then you can pull off the pointy
leaves to see the soft heart within. Once
you've dug the heart out they are easy to
preserve for later use by storing in olive oil
(and you will find them in shops preserved
in glass jars). Commonly grown around
the Mediterranean, artichoke is often used
in Italian cooking in particular.
What's in a name?
Globe artichokes (or just plain artichokes)
are not to be confused with Jerusalem
artichokes (famously not from Jerusalem,
and not actually an artichoke either).
The Jerusalem type, available October
to February, is in fact a variety of sunflower
with a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber that
looks a like a bit of fresh ginger and needs
to be peeled in a similar way to ginger.
The 'artichoke' part of the Jerusalem
MAKING CARBS COUNT: UPDATE
artichoke's name comes from the taste of
its edible tuber. According to Wikipedia,
French explorer Samuel de Champlain
sent the first samples of the plant home
to France when he was in North America,
noting its taste was similar to that of
an artichoke. In Canada, the tuber is
sometimes known as a sunchoke. The
potato-like tubers have nutty, sweet flesh,
can be used raw or cooked and are a
seasonal winter vegetable.
Jerusalem artichoke contains about
2% protein, no oil, and a surprising lack
of starch. It is rich in the carbohydrate
inulin (76%). Tubers stored for any length
of time will convert their inulin into its
component fructose giving it a slightly
sweet taste. Jerusalem artichokes have
also been promoted as a healthy choice
for Type 2 diabetics, because fructose is
better tolerated by people with diabetes.
It has also been reported as a folk remedy
for diabetes. Temperature variances have
been shown to affect the amount of inulin
the Jerusalem artichoke can produce.
When grown in cooler regions it has been
shown to produce less inulin than when it
is grown in warmer regions.
The art of artichokes
This is an excerpt from an article by Anna
Pavord published in The Independent
in February 2015: "While the globe is
all drama and delight, the Jerusalem is
neither an artichoke, nor from Jerusalem.
It's odd that the same name, artichoke,
should have been given to two such
completely different vegetables. The globe
artichoke looks as though it has been
sculpted by the builders of the Parthenon;
the Jerusalem artichoke has no drama at
all. Of the one, we eat the flower buds; of
the other, a knobbly underground tuber.
They taste entirely different, too.
"Jerusalem artichokes are tough,
hardy plants belongs to the sunflower
family and that's how it got its name:
girasole is the Italian word for sunflower
and somehow the word drifted to become
Per 150g globe artichokes contain
76 cals, 0% fat, 0% cholesterol, 17%
potassium, 17g carbs 9%, 5g protein,
dietary fibre, 32% vitamin C, 24%
magnesium, 7% calcium, 6% sodium.
Per 150g, Jerusalem artichokes contain
109 cals, 0% fat, 0% cholesterol, 18%
potassium, 26g carbs, 10% dietary fibre,
10% vitamin C, 28% iron, 5g protein.
Jerusalem instead. It's the tuber hidden
underground that is the edible part. They
can be very misshapen and difficult to
peel, which is why I always favoured a
variety called 'Fuseau'. It's less knobbly
than other kinds, so you waste less when
you are preparing it.
"The globe artichoke has all the
dramatic credentials to be the star and
centrepiece of a vegetable plot. It has
superb foliage, greyish-green and jagged,
and the flower buds are held showily on
fat, sturdy stems. It looks stunning from
late May to October."