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artichoke

 

Synonyms: globe-artichoke

Botanical name: Cynara scolymus


Artischocke

 

The precise origin of the artichoke is unclear. It is presumed to be the Mediterranean area. It is known, however, that people in Egypt and Rome were acquainted with it as early as 500 b.c.

At the courts of European royalty in the 13th century, artichokes were considered a sign of affluence and were eaten by the nobility. Then the artichoke passed into oblivion and was not discovered again as a vegetable until 1925. The artichoke requires warm regions to grow. It is cultivated in Italy, Spain and France.


Availability


Artichokes are available in Germany from August to May. They are especially plentiful between March and May.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


The artichoke is a species of thistle. Outwardly it resembles a pine cone. Green or red leaves layered on top of each other grow out from a receptacle. The artichoke tastes slightly bitter, somewhat tart, and reminds one of celeriac and hazelnut.


Ingredients


Artichokes have a high fibre content, as well as polyphenols, one of the secondary plant substances. 100 g contain:

Artischokes, cooked
Artischokes, tinned
Energy (kcal)
22
20
Water (g)
83
83
Protein (g)
2,4
2
Fat (g)
<1
< 1
Carbohydrates (g)
2,6
2
Fibre (g)
10,8
11
Vitamin C (mg)
8
4
Vitamin A (RÄ) (µg)
17
17
Folic acid (µg)
38
Potassium (mg)
350
195
Sodium (mg)
47
39
Calcium (mg)
53
56
Magnesium (mg)
26
18
Iron (mg)
1,5
1,3



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


Artichokes with brownish leaf apexes should be left in the shop. The head of an artichoke should be closed when it is bought. Artichokes can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


It is not easy to eat an artichoke correctly, and only about one quarter of the entire fruit is edible. For this reason it is held to be a very expensive vegetable and a delicacy. Artichokes are normally eaten cooked. The stem is removed and the pointed tips of the leaves are cut off. Then they are cooked until the leaves can be pulled out easily. Some lemon juice or vinegar is added to the cooking water. Aluminium pots are not suitable for cooking because they make the artichokes turn black. After cooking, one pulls the leaves out and dips the bottoms in a sauce. The fleshy part of each leaf is removed by pulling the leaf between one's teeth. The artichoke bottom, or heart, is a special delicacy. Before it is eaten, however, the strawlike interior ('hay') on the surface must be removed.

There are many other ways to prepare artichokes. They can be filled, or the hearts can be deep-fried, breaded or gratinéed. Tinned artichoke hearts can be found in the shops.


Miscellaneous


The artichoke was recognized as an officinal plant in the ancient world. Today, extracts of artichoke leaves are still used in remedies. Artichoke extracts are supposed to improve the digestion of fat by promoting the secretion of bile.

 

 

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