What does an artichoke plant look like?

13 Jun
by Francine

This weekend we stopped by Ham House for a wander around the grounds, despite the drizzle.  We also spent some time carefully inspecting all the plants growing in the kitchen garden.  They use what’s grown in the garden in Orangery Café, which is right next to the garden.

As we were wandering the rows of the kitchen garden, I spotted a giant dinosaur-like plant in the distance; and I thought, ”Whoa…Now that’s a giant thistle!”  But then when got closer I realized that it wasn’t a genetically modified form of the prickly purple thistle that all farmers loathe—it was actually a globe artichoke!  Photo of artichoke plant

I’d never seen an artichoke plant before, have you?  It’s cool to see how things grow because so often we just find things clean and shiny on our supermarket shelves.

When I got home and wikipedia-ed ‘artichoke,’ I discovered that in fact artichokes are perennial thistles!  The part of the artichoke that we consume is the bud; if it’s allowed to flower it produces a large purple bloom.  Ya’ learn something new everyday! ;) 

I’ve actually never eaten an artichoke(!!) but I’ve thought it looked fun…like eating a flower, which it is since you consume the pre-flower.  Do you have a favorite way to eat artichokes?

Here’s a few of the other lovely things we found amongst the rows of the kitchen garden.A photo of the lettuceTheir lettuce looks amazing and it’s nicely protected from ninja rabbits.  It’s also A LOT bigger than the lettuce growing on my balcony.A photo of the rhurbarbThere was lots of lovely red rhubarb.  We didn’t visit the cafe, but I’d love to know what they were making with it. (I made this with rhubarb last week.)A photo of a lovely flower

And this flower brought some sunshine to our dark gray weekend.


13 Responses to “What does an artichoke plant look like?”

  1. Rachel@hammeringourwayhome June 13, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    You’ve got to try an artichoke (I can’t believe you haven’t had one before!). I’ve had them in dips before, but they’re also really good just cooked (I think you basically steam it) and dip into something. They’re sort of fun to eat. Check one out!

    • Teresa June 13, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      A perennial thistle? Who’d a thought! Thanks for the info and the great photos, as always! I love artichokes steamed. We dip the fleshy end of the leaf (?) in melted butter.

    • realocalcooking June 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      I guess I have had artichoke dip, which was good, but it didn’t seem like an artichoke. I’ll have to rustle one up this summer…they do seem fun to eat and I like the indulgence of dipping it in butter! :)

      • Aina June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

        Hello Francine
        In Barcelona we eat the artichoke in winter time and is lovely the taste that has in the heart. I cut the artichoke and put it in the microwave with lasts of salt and a good amount of oliveoil, I cook them for 5 to 6 minuts until they are soft. And then its ready to eat, so yummi :) try to drink water after the last bite and then you will get a sweet taste from the mix of the water and the last taste of the artichoke. hope you like them :)

      • realocalcooking June 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

        Thanks for sharing Aina! It’s great to know that you’re able to prepare artichokes in the microwave, I wouldn’t have thought of that! I’ll remember to have some water after the last bite so I can taste the sweet taste! ;)

  2. Eeva June 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Oh Francine, you have missed so much! You must try artichoke! Now I’m wondering did we not eat pizza with artichoke in Italy? It’s my favourite: thin, crispy bottom, tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichoke (heart), mushrooms and rucola. yammm!

    • realocalcooking June 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      I know! I feel like I’ve missed out! Perhaps we can make some pizza together once we see each other, or perhaps we’ll meet in Italy again! ;) That pizza sounds amazing!

  3. Corrine June 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Hi Francine, I am loving all your posts. Artichokes! we don’t eat them a lot … but occasionally. Guess you were just never in California during artichoke season. We dip ours in mayonnaise…. but then when I learned to eat broccoli it was served with mayonnaise. Enjoy your new artichoke experience. I have a recipe from Aunt Bette that uses artichokes…. I’ll have to dig it out.

    • realocalcooking June 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      Yes, I must have missed the CA artichoke season! I love that so many are sharing their favorite ways to enjoy artichokes…it must be a very lovely treat since it’s bringing back lots of food memories. Let me know if you find the recipe from Aunt Bette.

  4. Julie June 13, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    On our recent trip to California, I saw an artichoke plant for the first time. I love everything artichoke…dip, steamed, on pizza, in pasta! Enjoying your posts from across the pond :)

    • realocalcooking June 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the England posts…I’ve been having fun writing them! I loved seeing an artichoke plant for the first time…it was SO big! And I can’t wait to have an artichoke…all these comments are making me realize that this must be be my summer goal…eat an artichoke.dipped in butter! :)

      • Ohio Bubba October 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

        I’m very late to the party but we have been trying to grow some this year (Cincinnati, Ohio). Covered the plant one night to protect from frost but there are still no buds/’fruit’.
        Maybe they do not produce the first year?!?
        Last time I cooked one I just put a broiler tray on the bottom rack (covered with tin foil).
        Left the stem on, poured olive oil on it and put it on the rack above the broiler my sticking the stem through the rack.
        Baked it at 300 for about an hour.

        Just scrape the flesh off each leaf with my teeth, clean off the fuzz when all the leaves are gone and eat the heart.

        Have no idea what I am doing but it tastes good.

      • realocalcooking October 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

        It’s never to late to join the Real Local Cooking party! :) So cool that you’re trying to grow one in OH. It will be interesting to see if buds form next year. Baked with olive oil sounds like a yummy way to enjoy artichoke…thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: