Just in the nick of time

12 Sep

I grew up eating globe artichokes. You may now be imagining I’m Italian, and we used to eat them as part of an antipasto.

But no.

My Mum is American, and she prepares them in a very American way.

No, its not what you’re thinking – not covered by cheese from a can.

Mum boils the artichokes in salted water until the flesh is tender, then serves them individually in a bowl with dressing on the side. We then carefully peel a petal off, dip in the (always ranch) dressing, and scrape the flesh off between our front teeth. You don’t really get much in your tummy at first, but as you get closer to the heart of the artichoke you can eat more and more of each petal until you reach the heart. The heart is the best bit – you can eat pretty much all of it.

The artichokes in late July

I planted my globe artichokes in January, and they have grown enormously. So huge in fact that they take up a disproportionate amount of space in my front garden bed, and they are commented on by most people who visit or even just wander past.

I’ve read from most sources that artichokes flower (fruit) in the spring, but to date I have had zip, zilch, nada. I was getting to the point that they were onto their final warning.

My first artichoke

And then last week they began to emerge. In clusters of 5 or 6, and conveniently they seem to be staggered slightly, so I won’t have 20 at once.

Now I better get started on the ranch dressing and summon the family. We’re in business, people!

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8 Responses to “Just in the nick of time”

  1. Kate September 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Well done. I just love artichokes and the plant itself is worth growing just for it’s looks in my opinion.

    • L September 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      It is beautiful – the silvery foliage is really striking. It’s just that I have a ‘produce or you’re out’ policy 🙂 on 500m2, you have to be ruthless ;P

  2. Liz September 13, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Much to my shame I have to admit to having never eaten an artichoke let alone grown one – but I am keen to give them a go. As a result I have some fairly basic questions – How many artichokes would you serve per person – is one enough? How many do you get per plant? Do your kids like them? What do they taste like? Other than ranch dressing that is.

    • L September 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

      You normally serve one per person as a side dish. I am getting conflicting reports on how many per plant, but definitely at least 5 or 6. I remember getting side shoots like a broccoli when we grew them as children, so up to 20 wouldn’t surprise me.

      The kids (well J, because D wasn’t old enough last year) liked them well enough, but they are a bit challenging to market 🙂 I think if they like the dressing, then that is a good start.

      What they taste like… that’s a tricky one. Really not like anything else I can think of. They have a mild but distinctive flavour, but I’m struggling to describe it any further, sorry.

      Are really great visual guide can be found here: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cook_and_eat_an_artichoke/

      But we never trim the tops.

  3. Asydfoodie September 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Rather than the ranch dressing, we’ve used lemony mayo, aioli, or versions of those two with yoghurt (my attempt at being ‘healthier’). I have had no luck with the growing of them.

    As to taste … Slightly metallic i think, and a bit like greens that have boiled for too long. But you eat them because it is an excuse to eat vast quantities of mayo.

    • L September 18, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      Hehe, yes that is true, but I really do like the taste of the artichokes too 🙂

  4. Barbara Good September 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    I am suitably impressed, I would never have dreamed of growing artichokes and given the size of them it might be a while before I find space to give them a go – that and I think I would have to work REALLY hard to get Mr Good to try them.

    • L September 18, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      They certainly are not economical in terms of space required. Maybe try buying a couple from the greengrocer instead.

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