Artichoke Season

Artichoke Season

Photo by A. Carlos HerreraOn a whim, I bought an artichoke from the supermarket. I dimly remember having one when I was a kid, and enjoying scraping the leaves with my teeth. I finally decided to cook it today. In the process of skimming such sites as the California Artichoke Advisory Board, I learned:

  • It’s a giant thistle! So if you have kids, say it’s like what Eeyore eats in Winnie The Pooh. Hopefully the A.A. Milne version is what they’re being raised on.

  • “One 12-ounce artichoke is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium. It’s low in sodium, fat-free and a dieter’s delight at only 25 calories.” —

  • “Artichokes, including leaves, were thought to be an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a breath freshener and even a deodorant.” —

  • “Current research is showing benefits to the liver from cynarin, a compound found in the artichoke’s leaves. Silymarin is another compound found in artichokes that has powerful anitoxidant properties and may help the liver regenerate healthy tissue.” —

  • The peak season for artichokes is March through May, so this is a seasonal veggie you can get hold of now. Nearly all artichokes sold in the US come from California. They have an artichoke festival every year in Castroville.


  1. seuss 15 years ago

    been trying to learn to cook these myself. was one of my moms specialties. unfortunately the italian way of cooking doesn’t seem to include measuring anything. so the recipes (including the one for artichokes) are turning out to be a bit tough to pass down…especially remotely.

  2. Emily 15 years ago

    Hmm, I wonder if Cynar, the artichoke based spirit, has all those health benefits? I’ve always thought the label was gorgeous but have somehow not been able to bring myself to buy a bottle. :)

    Robert has been searching for an Italian (stuffed) artichoke recipe as well…also his mom’s specialty! We’ve just been buying pre-made ones from Italian groceries in the meantime.

  3. Barry 15 years ago

    Artichoke are my favorite veggie. I used to drive past where they grew them on the way from SF to Monterey to go diving.

    It’s truely amazing what grows in California (virtually everything).

  4. Dave 15 years ago

    It’s odd what posts strike chords in the readership. Cool! :-)

  5. indieb0i 15 years ago

    I’ve cooked with artichoke hearts plenty of times, but I’m intimidated by the whole artichokes when I pass them in the store. How do you prepare them? I’d love to try it sometime.

  6. Dave 15 years ago

    I’ve only prepared one artichoke from a basic cooking guide:

    (1) Cut the top off the artichoke, about 1-2 inches.

    (2) Cut the top of every leaf off, the pointy brown parts.

    (3) Cut the bottom of the stem off, leaving about 1/2 inch or so

    (4) Steam for 40 minutes, OR microwave for about 4 minutes.

    Then you peel off the leaves, dip them in some butter, and scrape off the good part with your teeth. You don’t eat the whole leaf, apparently. Toward the inside maybe you can.

  7. indieb0i 15 years ago

    I’ll have to give that a try, but I also just found this recipe from epicurious – Artichokes braised with garlic and thyme. My girlfriend also suggests “Stuffed Artichokes”.

  8. Lou Marraccini 12 years ago

    Stuffed artichokes are by far my favorite dish. To prepare stuffed artichokes.
    1.  Cut of the top about 3/4 of an inch
    2.  Cut of the stem…not too short because you will start to loose the leaves.
    3.  Boil in salt water for 15-20 min. or until the leaves are simi soft.
    4.  Set upside down to drain the water..when cooled squeeze the excess water from the artichokes/
    5.  I make a meatball mix of ground chuck, veal pork, eggs, cheese, garlic salt, pepper, etc and stuff the leaver of the artichokes.
    6.  Add artichokes to a roasting pan..add water and cover the top of each one with oil and butter.
    7.  Cook @ 350 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours covered for the last 1/2 hr. uncovered to brown the stuffing.
    8.  After 2 1/2 hrs. test a leaf, should be soft.
    This was my mother way of doing it.  Great Cook.

  9. cajun 11 years ago

    My family would throw them in with the crab boil and oh are they delicious with all that seasoning all over the leaves!

  10. Heather 10 years ago

    Wow, I’ve never heard that artichoke is an aphrodisiac!