Italy: queen of artichokes
The best artichokes are available on the market from December to May
Italy is one of the largest producers of artichokes worldwide; the countless varieties cultivated on the Italian territory can be divided into two large groups, those with thorns and those without thorns.
Artichokes with thorns
The most common varieties in this category are the Sardinian Spinoso, Ligurian Spinoso, and the Palermo Spinoso. They are excellent prepared either fried in batter or braised or sautéed, not giudia style as this recipe requires artichokes without thorns.
If you have very tender artichokes, they are also perfect to eat raw, after having cleaned them and left them to soak in water that is made acid adding lemon to prevent them from oxidising. Then cut them very thinly and dress them simply with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, adding some parmesan cheese flakes to obtain a delicious appetiser.
Artichokes without thorns
These are grown in central Italy, where you have the most famous Romaneschi and Tuscan Violetti. It is recommended not to eat them raw, and they are very popular used for recipes like carciofi alla giudia and fried in batter.
How to choose it
Fresh, quality artichokes are recognisable for their firm texture, their tips that must be closed and their stalk that must be stiff and not bend.
How to store it
Store the fresh artichokes for up to 3-4 days soaking the stalks in fresh water straight after purchase just as with a bunch of flowers.
Let’s not waste anything!
Artichoke stalks, stripped of their tough and bitter outer bark, are perfect to make artichoke cream.
You can use the tougher outer leaves for a vegetable stock if you like their typical flavour.