Growing artichokes in your own garden are not difficult. But when is the right harvest time for Mediterranean vegetables and how can they be stored? The origin of the artichoke ( Cynara cardunculus, syn. Cynara scolymus ) is originally in the Mediterranean region. With the right approach, it is still possible to grow the flowering vegetables in our latitudes and even bring them through the winter. In late summer it will be time for the harvest. But how do you actually know that artichokes are ripe for harvest and what is the best way to store them? We answer these questions here.
Harvesting artichokes: harvest time and procedure
Since the artichoke is a vegetable in which it is not the fruit but the inflorescence that is eaten, the right harvest time is not always clear. The following tips are intended to help you identify when to harvest and harvest artichokes correctly.
Artichoke harvest time
The artichoke harvest season basically depends on the age of the plant. The following applies: If the plant is grown for the first year, you can expect a harvest from the end of August to September. If the artichoke has been in the bed for over a year, the first buds will be ripe from the end of July. You can recognize harvest-ready artichokes by the fact that the flower heads are compact and firm and by the brownish flower tips.
The inflorescence is always harvested before it opens. If you wait too long, it can open very quickly and the ready-to-harvest artichoke turns into a handsome flower. Once it starts to bloom, it’s too late to harvest. We recommend leaving the flower to stand anyway. On the one hand, the sight of the large purple flowers is worthwhile, on the other hand, pollinators such as bumblebees enjoy the rich bloom.
You can recognize a ripe artichoke by these criteria:
- Compact and firm flower head
- Unopened flower
- Brownish flower tips
How to harvest artichokes
The most important rule when harvesting artichokes is: cut the flower head relatively low down on the stem. This allows the flower bud to be supplied with water for a while. This measure extends the shelf life of the artichoke.
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Store artichokes correctly
In principle, artichokes should not be kept for too long. If the fresh flower heads are stored without refrigeration, they dry out quickly and the pulp is no longer edible. However, there are a few options for keeping artichokes fresh. This allows you to consume Mediterranean vegetables over a longer period of time.
Store artichokes in the refrigerator
For those who only want to store freshly harvested artichokes for a few days, a refrigerator is a suitable place. The lower vegetable compartment in the refrigerator is very suitable for storage. To extend the shelf life even further, you can wrap a damp cloth around the artichoke. If there is enough space in the refrigerator, it has also proven useful to put the head and handle in a glass of water. As a result, the artichoke, similar to a flower in the vase, absorbs even more water and stays fresh longer.
If the artichokes are to be stored for longer than a few days, they can also be frozen. To do this, proceed as follows: Cut out the heart of the artichoke and cut it into smaller pieces. Fry the pieces briefly in the pan. After the cooked artichoke has cooled, it is frozen in the freezer bag. So you can always fall back on the Mediterranean vegetables if necessary. Artichokes can be kept frozen for several months.
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Pickle the artichokes
A very popular method of preserving artichokes is soaking them – preferably in oil. For this, in addition to the artichoke, you will need water, vinegar, garlic, salt, and olive oil. That’s how it works:
- Sterilize the mason jar by boiling it in hot water for a few minutes.
- Wash the artichoke and cut it into eighths. To do this, remove the outer leaves and the stem.
- Boil the artichoke pieces in water with a little vinegar for a few minutes.
- Then skim off the pieces, let them dry briefly, and salt them well.
- Layer the artichoke pieces together with the garlic in the mason jar so that no air remains in them.
- Lastly, seal the mason jar tightly and store it in the refrigerator.
If you cook artichokes this way, they can be kept for at least a week and served as delicious antipasti.
Preserving artichokes as a pesto
A wonderful alternative for Mediterranean cuisine is making artichoke pesto. To do this, boil an artichoke with a little lemon juice in water for about half an hour. After it’s cooked, the outer leaves can be removed and the artichoke pulp can be mashed along with roasted pine nuts, garlic, basil, salt, and olive oil. Depending on your taste, you can also add parmesan cheese. The finished pesto should definitely be kept in the refrigerator.