When a harvest of artichokes comes to produce the vegetable it is a great satisfaction, observing the formation of the large flower at the top of the plant, picking it and cooking a delicious vegetable from your own garden is a pleasure difficult to describe.
From this plant ( Cynara scolima ) the edible part is the bud or flower head therefore the vegetable that is botanically called the artichoke is not a fruit but a flower, which is taken from the garden when it is still closed.
However, to fully enjoy your artichokes, it’s important to pick the right time to pick the head. , preventing their tips from splitting open and becoming too hard and pungent. Let’s find out when and how to choose the best quality artichokes.
The collection period
The moment when the artichoke reaches the harvest is variable: it depends on the varieties and the climatic conditions. The seasonality is approximately September October (autumn varieties) Is from the end of February and in spring (spring varieties) . The fall artichoke is not suitable for growing in cold regions, so spring harvesting is usually more common.
These are plants of harvest scalar , an artichoke plant produces gradually during its useful period. The first vegetable that forms is of the best quality, at the top of the stem.
As already mentioned, the artichoke plant is cultivated to harvest the flower head, it is a versatile species, which generally produces the artichoke from the second year of planting.
A well-established plant sends out several branches from the stem, the number varies according to the variety and growing conditions, and since each branch produces an apical head, the productivity of the crop depends on it. the best artichoke it forms at the top of the stem, which is the first option. Artichokes at the top of the main branches are the second option, which in any case represent an excellent quality vegetable. Later, third-grade artichokes also form on secondary branches, suitable for storage in oil.
From a stem, the artichoke produces only one first choice artichoke and about ten second choice artichokes throughout the season. Considering the space it takes up, it is certainly not a particularly productive vegetable.
when to raise your head
To harvest it is necessary choose the right time and it is important to check the plant daily: the flower head must reach the right size and have its tips still closed . Leaving it on the plant means seeing the open ends, which would be petals and harden the plant. When the bud opens, the spiny petals will have become stringy and leathery, unpleasant to eat.
summit head of first choice is the first to produce then gradually you will have the scalar harvest of the other smaller artichokes.
How to collect
The collection operation is very simple, with a sharp knife or shears, the stem is cut about 5-10 cm from the head . As the artichoke is spiny, you have to be careful and wear gloves, leaving part of the stem attached to the vegetable will be easier to pick up.
After harvest, the buds should be kept cool, ideally in the refrigerator. They do not last long and should be consumed within 7-10 days. There are many interesting recipes with this vegetable, which you can make in the oven or in the pan as an accompaniment, stuffed to make a main dish. An excellent recipe is the velvety soup with artichokes.
If we want to keep the artichokes longer, we can decide to freeze them. It is best to cook them beforehand and also sprinkle them with lemon juice to preserve them as well as possible. In the freezer, frozen artichokes can be kept for one year and therefore allow us to have them available until the following year’s harvest.
Finally, you can also preserve this vegetable in jars, turning it into oil or pickled. Obviously for practical reasons this preparation should be reserved for the smallest artichokes. We have explained in detail how to make artichokes in oil safely, avoiding the formation of botulinum and other problems.