Eating artichokes is sort of like eating sunflower seeds… it takes a bit of work pulling off the petals and nibbling off the tiny bit of flavorful morsel at the end. However, you are rewarded by a nice artichoke heart at the end! Yes they are petals since an artichoke is technically a flower bud from a thistle family. If left on the plant, it will bloom into a nice purple thistle flower. We are fortunate to live in Southern California where artichokes grow quite easily. We started with one seedling 4 years ago. After that plant produced around a dozen or more artichokes, I just cut the plant down at ground level. A month or so later a half dozen shoots sprouted from the old stem. I just dug the small plants out and transplanted them. Each in turn produced another dozen or so artichokes and produce new plants again. So each year new sprouts emerge where the old plant was. They grow like weeds and need lots of sun and water and a little fertilizer at the beginning. We end up with lots of artichokes and our neighbors are quite happy when we share them.
The most tender artichokes are the ones that are harvested first. Ones from later in the season tend to be harder with drier petals. I was told that the plants will keep producing for 4-5 years so I may have to start new plants soon. Not sure if shoots after that will grow into producing plants or not.
This one in the pot is the first of the season and as you see is really big!
I just put about an inch of water in the pot with a pinch of salt and place the artichoke in the pot with a lid and let it steam for 20-25 minutes. When ready just put on a plate and start pulling off the petals from the bottom petals and work your way inward. We just use melted butter to dip the end in before biting the end and using your teeth to pull off the meaty part. You can also put some garlic salt in the butter for a little more flavor if you prefer.
When you finish all the petals, you are left with the base or heart of the artichoke. There is a fuzzy, bristly part that you need to scrape off the top of the heart.
Now your are left with the heart that you can slice into pieces and enjoy! All that hard work comes to fruition! Actually though, sharing an artichoke is one of life’s simple pleasures! So head to the market and get some artichokes now that they are in season and get some seeds or plants to grow in your backyard.