Simple tips on how to cook and eat globe artichokes

Young artichokes ready to be picked. Picture: Hannah Moloney.
Young artichokes ready to be picked. Picture: Hannah Moloney.

Globe artichokes (cynara scolymus) are a strikingly beautiful plant to grow.

But when you're starting out, it can be considerably confusing to figure out the best way to eat them.

Originating from the Mediterranean and central Asia these beauties are members of the thistle family.

The edible part of the plant is the flower bud.

They can produce between four and six flower heads in their first year and twice as many in the second year.

Globe artichokes prefer a sunny spot in the garden with plenty of space and well-drained soil.

Sustainable Gardening Australia has some great tips on how to grow them.

But for any folk wondering how to wrap your mouth around this thistle, without the thistle experience, here's what I can tell you.

A more mature artichoke which will have some prickly thistles inside.

A more mature artichoke which will have some prickly thistles inside.

If you are growing them in your garden, timing the harvest is critical to ensure you don't end up with a mouthful of prickly thistles.

You pick them when they're quite young and undeveloped - this ensures their heart (the centre) is still soft.

When a flower bud is a bit too far gone, like the one pictured right, I won't pick and eat it because it would have already developed central prickles.

Instead I'll let it flower for the bees and for some eye candy.

The flowers are glorious, fluffy and purple, as seen in the picture above.

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How to cook an artichoke

First, you need to take off the outer petals as these are quite tough.

You'll end up with a small flower bud in the middle.

Do this with all of your artichokes.

The easiest way to cook them is to pop them all in a large pot and add water.

Bring them to the boil and then simmer them until soft.

They're now ready to eat.

We make a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and a nice vinegar and drizzle it over them or dip each one into a small bowl of dressing as you eat it. It's delicious.

Once they're cooked, you can easily pull them apart.

You can eat the heart and some of the stem, which is also delicious.

Most of the petals you removed are edible too, but you'll find the tips will be a bit tough, so you can just remove those and add them to your compost.

We eat our artichokes with everything. I even add them to my scrambled eggs.

  • Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom are the founders of Good Life Permaculture, a landscape design and education enterprise regenerating land and lifestyles to create and implement projects all about living sustainably and meaningfully.