There are two types of artichokes, Jerusalem and Globe. We grow both in our garden. They could be grown simply for their beauty, however, they are also both edible. Globe artichokes have wonderful grey spikes-looking leaves that add a beautiful visual dimension to the garden, and again when they flower in late Spring, early Summer. To eat it, one harvests the flower. The best way to eat it is to steam it, serve it with a dipping sauce of olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of Tamari/soy sauce and finely chopped garlic.
It’s a finicky business to eat them, but fun and social. Pull off the outer “petals” until the fatter-based petals are reached. After dipping these fleshy leafy petal bases in the sauce, one pulls them through closed teeth, harvesting this succulent tasty morsel. When one reaches the middle, one has to scrape the “hairy” parts off of the base of the artichoke flower and this is the jewel in the crown! It is a succulent, delicious morsel after cutting and eating it in small pieces dipped in sauce. Well worth the effort.
Now for Fartychokes! I mean, Jerusalem artichokes. These are also worth growing simply for the wonderful spectacle they create in the garden. Planted near a fence to provide shelter and support, these artichokes grow at least 2 1/2 – 3 metres tall and create a beautiful spray of delightful small yellow flowers, not unsimiliar to mini sunflowers. In late Autumn/early Winter, when the stalks have died down, one digs up the bulbous roots underground.
These knobbly Jerusalem artichokes are the most amazingly delectable feast when grilled with olive oil and lemon or lime juice drizzled over them. They are not found on supermarket shelves as they do not store very well and should be consumed within 2-3 days of harvesting for maximum firmness and freshness. They were apparently more popular in Europe before the spread of commercially available potatoes became available. Some people refer to them as Fartychokes as they have the ability to produce an explosive digestive result. It can also make some people feel uncomfortable and develop a “bloated” feeling after consuming them.
Another favourite way to cook the latter arti’s is to make them into a delicious artichoke, pumpkin and potato mixed soup! I love these guys as they are able to be harvested at a time of year when nothing much else is available in the garden, a good cold weather stand-by food.
Try growing some….. See if you develop a love for them as I have.