A brief history
Artichokes are a common name among vegetables. From Jerusalem artichokes to globe, you may be mistaken to associate these two.
However, heirloom artichokes are botanically known as cynara cardunculus. They are the domesticated versions of wildly growing cardoons. They are in no way related to Jerusalem artichokes, which belong to the sunflower family.
Also known as globe or French artichokes, they resemble thistle plants and are part of aster group of plants.
Artichokes are natives of the Mediterranean regions. They form a crucial part of this diet, which emphasizes on vegetables, nuts, fruits, whole foods as well as lean proteins.
Aside from Mediterranean basin, they are found in mildly humid climates.
Types of artichokes
There are numerous cultivars grown in diverse regions. Globe (French) is widespread in all cultivation regions. It is also a parent, from which other cultivars are obtained.
In addition, they are mostly categorized as per their shape. Some varieties take after the globe, which is round and large. Other varieties are elongated and small.
Common artichoke varieties include: Chinese; violetta; Baby Anzio; green globe; big heart; Carciofo Romanesco; sienna; Italian purple globe as well as Sardinian spiny.
A typical artichoke has a predominantly green hue, with shades of purple. However, some varieties are either purely green or purple.
When choosing artichoke,
- Go for firm, tightly packed lobes.
- The artichoke should feel heavy on the hand.
- Check for bruises or slits on the leaves.
How to Cook Artichokes
Artichokes give off a slightly sweet, mild and earthy taste. Boiling gives them a nuttier flavor.
If you are not used to them, artichokes can be quite baffling! They may appear complex – in terms of appearance, cooking and eating.
However, they are versatile and pair well with most dishes. When it comes to cooking, you can steam, bake, sauté or grill the hearts.
Besides your own personalized recipes, there are countless others to choose from. For instance, you can stuff them with chopped vegetables or ground meat.
Incorporate them in salads, soups, dips as well as casseroles. Additionally, they add crunchiness in pizza toppings.
As a snack or side dish, you can fry them for use in dips. When eating whole artichokes, the easiest way is to pluck each individual leaf.
Nutritional value and Health Benefits
Daily servings of vegetables are paramount for promoting overall health. Artichokes are one among such vegetables.
You may easily dismiss them for their awkward appearance. Nonetheless, they are loaded with potent nutrients.
Did you know that artichokes are low caloric vegetables? In addition, they are fat and cholesterol free.
Apart from this, artichokes are rich sources of dietary fiber, magnesium, vitamin C as well as folate.
With the influx of processed foods, dietary fiber offers the much needed relief for the gut. It is crucial in digestion as it promotes bowel movement.
On the other hand, magnesium is effective in regulating numerous body processes. These include: blood pressure, nerve and muscle function. It also helps in synthesis of DNA.
Other than this, artichokes are low-sodium foods. Low sodium diets are crucial in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system.
Since antiquity, artichokes have been touted for their liver healing properties. The phytonutrients responsible for this are Silymarin as well as Cynarin. These potent antioxidants help in eliminating toxins in the liver and fight off liver inflammation.
In view of the above, make a point of incorporating artichokes in your diet.
How Long do Artichokes Last?
Similar to other food stuffs, artichokes have an expiry date. How long they last depend on storage as well as how fresh they are.
Shelf life of fresh, raw artichokes (at room temperature)
When left on the counter, the globes and hearts dry out and soften fast. If freshly harvested, they keep well for up to 4 days. However, if exposed to heat and moisture, they start to deteriorate on the first day. As such, place them on a cool, dry area.
How long do raw hearts last? (In the fridge)
In order to extend their shelf life, refrigerate raw ones. To prevent shriveling, sprinkle the lobes with water before placing on airtight bags. Well refrigerated artichokes last up to 1 week.
Can you freeze raw artichokes?
Unfortunately, it is not recommended. This is because freezing alters their taste and color.
Shelf life of cooked artichokes (in the fridge or freezer)
When cooked on their own, they keep well for up to 5 days in the fridge. For long-term storage, freeze cooked ones. However, dip them in lemon juice prior to freezing. This prevents the hearts from browning.
Well frozen cooked artichokes last for 6 months in good quality. You can also use them within 1 year of freezing.
How long do pickled artichokes last?
Pickling is great for preserving not only the shelf life, but flavor of foods. You can pickle artichokes in vinegar, oil or brine. Additionally, infuse them with seasonings and spices of your liking.
Well pickled types are shelf stable – unopened jars can last for 1-3 years. Opened jars have a shorter shelf life. Refrigerate and consume within 6 months.
Shelf life of canned artichokes (opened and unopened)
Commercially canned ones are a keeper. Unopened cans keep well in the pantry for up to 5 years. On the other hand, opened cans deteriorate quickly. Refrigerate and consume within 4 days. Alternatively, freeze and use within 1 month.
Can you dehydrate artichokes? How long do dried artichoke hearts last?
Artichoke hearts are pleasantly suitable for drying. Segment them into small hearts to ensure even drying. Steam or boil them first, to make them palatable but not soft.
Use either a food dehydrator or oven for effectiveness. When well dried, they should be brittle.
Store in airtight containers, away from direct heat. They are great for both ornamental and culinary uses. Utilize them within 2 weeks.
How do spoiled artichokes look like?
It is quite easy to spot expiration. Here’s how:
- The hearts become limp, dry and shriveled
- Visible mold
- Browning of flesh