The artichoke is a member of the thistle and the sunflower families. In Australia there are a number of types of globe artichokes including dull green, bronze and purple. The edible part of an artichokes is the flower bud which is inedible once the flower has matured and opened.
Selection and storage
Choose round artichokes that are heavy for their size with a firm stem and tightly packed leaves. Store in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Artichokes are an autumn vegetable and available in fruit shops in the autumn and winter months.
Artichokes have a reputation as difficult to use but in fact can be prepared a number of easy ways. They can be steamed, or boiled whole, braised, fried and crumbed, stuffed or eaten raw. To use whole cut off the sharp points of the leaves with scissors and remove the hairy central choke of the artichoke using a teaspoon. If boiling add lemon juice and salt to the water to prevent discolouration. Artichokes discolour very easily so once prepared rub lemon juice on any exposed surface. When cooked whole artichokes are often served with a sauce. Artichokes contain cynarin a chemical that sweetens the flavour of what you eat next so wine is wasted after eating artichokes. Artichokes are good with parmesan, butter, pinenuts, chicken, ham and carrots.
Artichokes are a good source of folate, magnesium, fibre and vitamin C.