There are many health benefits of artichokes are ignored in many parts of the world. Yet, this is a vegetable that can be grown almost anywhere, and it is even at home in a pot. If, you don’t want to grow artichokes for their health benefits, you should certainly grow them for their beauty – they have the most amazing flower head.
Fortunately, artichokes is one of those vegetables that has a very stabile nutritional content. This means that you can dry the vegetable, and process it into a a supplement. Artichoke supplements are now sold all over the world, and the great news is that they are not expensive. They really do offer great value for money. A daily artichoke supplement can help you to lower your cholesterol by promoting better liver function.
Cooking with artichokes
Artichokes are rather tough little vegetables, and you can also use almost all parts. The leaves of artichokes taste great when they are freshly steamed. All you need to do is to add some butter or olive oil, and scoop up the fleshy part of the leaf. You can also squeeze over some lemon if you find the taste of the leaf a little bit bitter.
The heart of the artichoke is the priced inner of the vegetable. If, you are not using fresh vegetables, you can buy tinned hearts in many supermarkets. Eat them as they are in a salad, but you can cook with them as well. For vegetarians they make a fantastic pizza topping, and you can even roast them. Artichoke heart also taste great straight off the barbecue or lightly grilled.
Some people don’t like the taste, but adding them to casseroles changes all of that. They seem to be able to absorb the taste of the casserole, and even add a slight salty flavor to the dish. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t add artichokes to your daily diet.
Growing artichokes at home
Growing artichokes is surprisingly easy, and what you are actually eating is the flower bud. It is a perennial plant so once planted it, you can enjoy them year after year. In the southern part of the UK, you can sow them directly in the ground from March onwards. The seeds are rather large so planning your artichoke bed is easy. It is a rather showy plant, so you need to allow at least 20 centimeters between each plant. The more distance you allow, the more buds the plant will produce.
You need to protect from strong winds and it is vital that you plant it in full sun. Artichokes are real sun worshipers, and the more sun you give this plant the better. You will find that the vegetable tastes a lot better when grown in full sun.
Artichokes hate weeds, and the biggest favor you can do is to keep the plants weed free. I grew them in Chiswick, London and found that they loved a south facing garden but hated weeds. Every weekend was spent caring for my artichokes, but the reward was astonishing. I had the most beautiful and tasty artichokes every August.
Watering is not such a problem. It is best to be a bit mean with water as the plant seems to appreciate this. A drip system is ideal, alternatively only water once a week. Remember these plants also grow around the Mediterranean, and often just survive on spring rains.
You will know that your artichokes are ready to eat when the leaves of the bud start to open up slightly. Don’t leave them too long because just like asparagus, they taste better when young and tender.
Do kids like artichokes? Yes, they do if they been brought up on them. If, your kids haven’t been brought up on artichokes, you can sneak them into their diet by adding them to casseroles. Simply chop them up in small pieces. Most kids think that they are potatoes, and the hearts are quite similar in texture when cooked in a casserole.
It is a vegetable that you have to make a bit of an effort with, but it is certainly worth it. It is packed with wonderful potassium, and folate. It is interesting word that, and very suitable when it comes to describe the health benefits of artichokes. After all, in Latin it means leaf.