The artichoke, multiple benefits

Purple or white, from Brittany or Roussillon, raw or cooked, the artichoke is eaten from March to November and lends itself to many recipes. A chance, because its benefits for our health are multiple.

The artichoke, multiple benefits
The artichoke, multiple benefits

artichoke identity card

The artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scoly) is a vegetable plant lively belonging to the family of the Asteraceae. As surprising as it may seem, its ancestor is simply wild thistle from which he kept the foliage, the upright habit and the inflorescences (capitula) surrounded by bracts. It is these inflorescences which are harvested and whose receptacle (artichoke heart) and the base of the bracts.

The land of origin of the artichoke is probably located around the Mediterranean basin (perhaps in North Africa). Although a first domestication seems to date from the first century AD, its culture only really developed from the 15th century (Italy / Spain) and only arrived in France around the beginning of the 16th century, to establish itself in regions with a favorable climate, that is to say in the south of France and in Brittany.

Today, although the Roussillon artichoke is the only French artichoke to have obtained an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication), nearly 80% of French production is Breton and, for the most part, Finistère.

Varieties of artichokes

Varieties of artichokes differ in their flavors, textures, shapes (conical, elongated or globular), colors (white or purple) and earliness.

The big circles

  • ‘Camus of Brittany’: very large round apple with wide, short, tight bracts, gray-green in color and tinged with purple on the edges. The heart is tender, the flesh fine and the flavor delicate.
  • ‘Big green from Laon’: broad apple with light green bracts with a fleshy base and a large heart.
  • ‘Macau’ : large shell-shaped apple with very fleshy bracts.
  • Etc.

The little purple ones

  • ‘Purple from Provence’: short, conical head with small bracts tinged with green and dark purple. Tender, its flavor is very fine.
  • ‘Violet from Romagna’: small fleshy apple, elongated and pointed, with dark purple bracts. It is best eaten young and raw.
  • Etc.

Artichoke season

The purple artichokes are the first to arrive on the shelves, from March / April (depending on the region of production). Production lasts until September/October, with a break in the middle of summer.

Large white artichokes arrive from May and are available until November, depending on the earliness of the varieties.

How to choose artichokes?

The apple of the artichoke should be firm, the bracts tight and brittle (those of purple artichokes should also be pungent). An apple with half-open scales is an overmature apple, with a lot of hay.

To know : the purple artichoke is sold as a bouquet. The others are sold individually.

How to store artichokes?

Keep artichokes cool and away from light.. Keep them for a maximum of 4 or 5 days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, without washing them and without cutting the stems. Its nutritional qualities deteriorate very quickly.

Once cooked, eat them within 24 hours.

The nutritional qualities of the artichoke*

The cooked artichoke is the vegetable richest in fiber (10.90 g per 100 g), which have a beneficial effect on the functions of the colon, on the reduction of the glycemic index and on certain gastrointestinal disorders.

On the mineral side and trace elementswe appreciate its potassium intake (24% NRVs** when steamed) and copper (23% NRVs when raw). At lower values ​​(always with a superiority on the raw artichoke side), the artichoke contains, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.

The vitamin B9 content (important for cell renewal in the body and the growth of maternal tissues during pregnancy) is also interesting, especially when eaten raw: 34% of NRVs (26.30% when cooked). Another advantage for the raw artichoke: it provides 19.73% of vitamin K1 NRVs, whereas when cooked, it contains almost none.

Finally, raw artichokes are among the foods that contain the most antioxidant polyphenols (260 mg per 100 g), including flavonoids, which would protect, among other things, against cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers (including liver cancer) and cancer. osteoporosis.

To know : the leaves of the artichoke have purifying and choleretic properties (which stimulate the secretion of bile). They are used in infusion.

How to cook artichokes?

Only the young poivrade purple artichokes (when the hay is not yet formed) can be eaten raw, with a filet of vinaigrette. They can also be eaten whole, sautéed or simmered in white wine (Barigoule).

Large artichokes are eaten cooked (heart and base of the bracts). To limit the leaching nutrients in the cooking water, prefer quick steaming to long boiling. The bottom of the bracts is eaten soaked in a little vinaigrette. Artichoke hearts can be prepared in various ways: stuffed, au gratin or accompanied by a tomato coulis… As for artichoke hearts, they are used to garnish many dishes (pasta, risottos, quiches, pizzas. ..) or simply marinated.

Cooking

  • 20 to 40 min in a large volume of boiling salted water.
  • 20 mins steamed.
  • 10 min in the pressure cooker.

Trick : the artichoke is cooked when you pull a bract and she comes off.

The artichoke, multiple benefits
Infographic – The artichoke, multiple benefits

*Sources: ANSES 2020 (Table of nutritional composition of Ciqual foods) / aprifel.com.

**NRV: nutritional reference value, formerly called Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), per 100g.


Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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