The artichoke is native to the Mediterranean and is eaten both raw and cooked. It is appreciated for its tender heart and its special flavor.
The artichoke in brief:
French production(1): 44,000 tonnes (2008-2012 average)
Production basins : Brittany, Languedoc-Roussillon
Availability : from May to November
Full season : from May to June
Average price in 2013(2): € 3.72 / kg
Consumption at home in 2013(2): 730 g per household
Nutrition(3): 100 g of artichoke represent 44.4 kcal
The artichoke on the culture side
Sowing begins from the end of April in a greenhouse or from April-May in the ground. It will take a year to achieve the first harvest.
The artichoke cultivation requires special attention and solid know-how from the producer. The soil must be frequently aerated but also regularly watered. It is when the plants reach a height of one meter that the harvest can begin.
Each mature artichoke is harvested by hand between May and the end of November. The harvest ends when a magnificent blue-purple flower appears between the scales of the vegetable.
There are two main varieties: Camus, originally from Brittany, which is eaten cooked, and Violet de Provence, which is more suitable for raw tasting.
- Vegetable garden : cultivation and maintenance of the artichoke
- Health:benefits and virtues of the artichoke
Artichoke, a bit of history
Native to the Mediterranean basin, the artichoke comes from different botanical crosses. The first traces are found in Italy during the Renaissance (mid-16th century). First used as a remedy, it was also known to be an aphrodisiac.
In France, it is introduced for the first time on the table of Queen Catherine de Medici. The vegetable becomes his sweet tooth, just like that of Louis XIV. It was he who encouraged the cultivation of artichokes in France.
Its success is such that there are five different species at Versailles at the time of the Sun King: White, Green, Purple, Red and Sweet of Genoa.
It was not until 1810 that an agronomist from the Paris region developed "Camus de Bretagne", the favorite artichoke of the French.
This deep, ashy green variety has a tight, rounded flower head with broad, short scales.
The artichoke on the kitchen side
Purchase of artichoke:
Choose the artichoke with a dense head with unstained and tight scales. The leaves of purple artichokes should be thick and slightly spicy. If the top of the leaves is black, it means it has been plucked a long time ago.
To be sure of choose a fresh artichoke, make sure that the stem is slightly damp and tender in color.
Storing the artichoke:
Artichokes can only be kept for a few days in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.
- It is imperative to leave its stem intact before storing it in a cool place to protect it from oxidation.
- Once cooked, the artichoke does not keep (even in the fridge).
Preparation of the artichoke:
Artichokes are eaten raw or cooked. It does not require any preparation before cooking, except for a quick passage under water. If you plan to eat it raw, be sure to dry the leaves well so that it does not soak up water.
To cook, allow 20 to 40 minutes (depending on the size) in a pot of salted boiling water. Pull on a sheet, if it comes off without resistance, it is cooked.
- To read: all our artichoke-based recipes
- Health: benefits and virtues of the artichoke
Source: (1) Agreste, (2) Kantar Worldpanel 2013, (3) Ciqual 2013
© Philippe Dufour / Interfel