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All About Artichokes: Your Guide to this California Favorite

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Did you know that artichokes are one of the oldest foods known to humans? That’s right! This unique vegetable has been known and loved for ages – and for good reason. Not only is it packed with antioxidants and other vital nutrients, but it is undeniably delicious! Read on to find out some awesome artichoke facts.  

Origins of Artichokes

Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean region, specifically near North Africa. The artichoke was  domesticated from its wild ancestor, the cardoon. This edible flower quickly became a world-wide favorite, and it is cultivated in Mediterranean countries and  the US extensively.

How Did the Artichoke Get its Name? 

The roots of the name ‘artichoke’ can be traced all the way back to the Arabs, who saw the plant and named it al-kharshufa. Later, the Spanish simplified the word in their language to alcarchofa. It was then heard by Italians and modified to be articiocco. 

After a lengthy game of telephone, the English translated the leafy vegetable into the word we know today, artichoke. This vegetable has a very rich and diverse history, and was used by cultures all over the world! 

How Did Artichokes Get to the U.S.?

Italy is known as the largest worldwide producer of artichokes with about 389,813 tons cultivated each year. The warm Mediterranean climate produces bountiful harvests each year. Italian immigrants brought artichokes over to California in the late 19th century. 

Artichokes also thrive in California’s cool summers and mild winters. Because of this, California is the number one producer of artichokes, producing nearly 100% of all artichokes grown in the U.S.! It makes sense that the artichokes is California’s official state vegetable.  

How to Eat Artichokes

Artichokes are likely to be found in stores throughout the year, but their peak is from March to May. Regardless of the seasons, there is a wide variety of ways to implement artichokes into any dish! We recommend steaming artichokes because boiling can dissolve its important nutrients. 

Most of these nutrients are concentrated in the leaves of the artichoke plant, but the “heart” is commonly eaten as well. The “heart” is the meaty part of the artichokes that is found in the center of the vegetable. However, make sure to remove the inner fuzzy part of the plant, known as the choke, because it is not edible!

Eating this plant is fairly simple, as the majority of it is consumable. First, you start out by pulling off the leaves of the artichoke. The meat on the leaves is edible so you can scrape that off and cook it, or eat it raw. Then, once you’ve pulled off all the leaves, you’ll find the “heart” of the artichoke surrounded by a fuzzy layer. The fuzz is the one part that you shouldn’t eat, so it’s advised that you pull that part off and then you can enjoy the “heart”. 

Is There Any Nutritional Value in Artichokes? 

Yes there is! Artichokes are known to lower cholesterol, aid in digestion, improve liver health, and even improve blood pressure. This vegetable is even considered a “superfood” because of its high levels of antioxidants. 

Recipes containing Artichokes

The great thing about artichokes is the versatility! That means you can add this lovely vegetable into almost any dish and it will enhance the flavor tenfold. Here’s a helpful recipe list to get you started! 

Where should I buy artichokes? 

Don’t miss out on this delicious flowering vegetable! With diverse ways to eat and prepare this veggie, you’ll surely never be bored. 

Are you ready to get cooking?  Be sure to stop by Ward’s Supermarket, where we supply fresh artichokes and so many more vegetables year round!

(352) 372-1741
515 NW 23rd Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32609