This week, the first few artichoke heads began to grow to an edible size. I enjoy artichokes. The plants are tall, the blossoms are beautiful and unique and unlike any other vegetable I’ve seen. We have huge artichoke plants along the fence line of our community garden and the plants are communal.
Artichokes are perennial thistles that originated in North Africa. They are known to grow wild there today. Wild artichoke!
If not cooked immediately, placing them in water lightly acidulated with vinegar or lemon juice prevents the brown discoloration which occurs from the chlorophyll oxidation. Did you know that artichokes can be used to make tea as well?
The majority of the cynarin found in artichoke is located in the pulp of the leaves, though dried leaves and/or stems of artichoke also contain Cynara which are used to increase bile production. Cynarin, an active constituent in Cynara, causes an increased bile flow. This diuretic vegetable is of nutritional value because of its exhibiting aid to digestion, strengthening of the liver function, gall bladder function, and raising of HDL/LDL ratio. This reduces cholesterol levels, which diminishes the risk for arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Aqueous extracts from artichoke leaves have also shown to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase and having a hypolipidemic influence, lowering blood cholesterol.
The artichoke, if you let it grow beyond harvest point, will produce a beautiful purple wild flower. I suggest allowing at least one to blossom. I promise the sacrifice of one artichoke is worth its beauty.