Making Carbs Count artichoke


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


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.

Globe artichoke

continued over

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 artichoke

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."


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