Artichokes, ‘flowers’ of water, fibre and vitamins
The artichoke is a plant which originates from Egypt and is grown throughout the Mediterranean. Apparently, they were already discovered by the Greeks and Romans, who granted them aphrodisiac powers. Legend has it that they were named after a beautiful girl with the same name, because she was seduced by Zeus who later transformed her into this plant.
The main component of artichokes is water (85%). They are rich in fibre, which helps bowel transit, and vitamin C, which helps to protect cells from oxidative damage and improves the absorption of iron. They also provide minerals, especially potassium, which helps to maintain blood pressure. Their harvesting period and best time for consumption runs from September to May.
Recipe for artichokes stuffed with foie gras, do you dare to prepare it? Get all the ingredients from your Consum or by clicking here.
The size of each piece varies depending on the variety, but they generally range between eight and twelve centimetres in diameter. They can weigh between 50 and 100 grammes.
ALCACHOFA DE BENICARLÓ (BENICARLÓ ARTICHOKE) D.O.
There are many varieties of artichoke, some of them native: ‘Morada Mallorquina’ (Mallorcan purple), ‘Camus de Bretagne’ (Camus from Brittany), ‘Romana Grande’ (Large Roman), ‘Blanca de Tudela’ (Tudela White), etc. In Spain, thanks to its excellent properties the ‘Alcachofa de Benicarló’ (Benicarló Artichoke) stands out, also boasting its own Denomination of Origin.
The production area stretches from the north of the Castellón province, in the region of Baix Maestrat, specifically, between the towns of Benicarló, Càlig, Peñíscola and Vinaròs.
The Mediterranean safeguards this land from large temperature fluctuations, offering moderated greenhouses, which enables the artichoke to grow consistently, round and compact. This climate naturally makes them very strong which, in optimum conditions of preservation, enables them to last a long time without diminishing their quality.
The Regulatory Board of the D.O. monitors the entire process- from their harvesting in the fields, to their selection, packaging, labelling and dispatch-, to guarantee that only the best pieces reach the table.
• They keep longer if you immerse the stalk in water, like ‘a flower’, to preserve their freshness.
• Rubbing them with lemon prevents them from turning black once cut.
• Adding a little lemon juice and a teaspoon of flour to the cooking water ensures they stay tender.
• You should avoid ‘over-cooking’, since it affects their flavour and texture.
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Artichokes can be eaten raw in salad, seasoned with a few drops of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper; baked with ham or anchovies; in paella or in a vegetable soup, with wine or accompanied with lamb. Below, we look at some examples: