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Artichoke is a variety of thistle and originated in the western and central Mediterranean. Homer and Hesiod mentioned it as a garden plant in the 8th century B.C. while the Saracens grew them in Granada and the Moors cultivated hem in North America during the Middle Ages.
European immigrants introduced artichoke to the US in the 1800s. It’s best grown in the mid-coastal region of California because of its cool, foggy climate. Today, California is responsible for 99 percent of the commercial crop.
Artichoke Nutrition Facts Chart
Now let’s jump into your artichoke options.
Basic Types of Artichokes
Elongated artichokes are tapered and long in size, and they are similar to Globe artichokes in their nutritional value. Elongated artichokes are not quite as full in shape and size as the Globe artichokes are, in part because of their long shape. When it comes to cooking artichokes and the nutrition they provide, there is little difference between Globe and Elongated artichokes because most of the difference comes in the sizes of the two items.
If you see a round, fat artichoke in your grocery store, it is likely a Globe artichoke. They are usually quite heavy and get up to 5 inches in diameter. This is often called a “true” artichoke, and it is a member of the thistle family. Globe artichokes are usually available all year long, but they taste better when they are purchased from June to November when they are larger and not quite as dry. If you’re buying a Globe artichoke, it is best to choose one that is packed tightly and has leaves of green or purple. If you press the bud lightly, the leaves should “squeak” a little, and they should always feel a little heavy for their size.
Specific Types of Artichokes – Elongated
With a very oblong shape and wine-red color, the Siena artichoke is definitely an eye-catcher. It has hearts that are soft enough to be consumed raw, and it is one of the last artichokes to mature during the growing season.
You can harvest Violetta artichokes in roughly 100 days, and they are usually 3 inches in width and 5 inches long. Their green leaves are tinged with violet color, and they are best grown in zones 6 and above. Violetta artichokes are an Italian heirloom and produce roughly 6-8 main buds along with dozens of baby chokes once the season progresses. If you grow Violetta artichokes, make sure that you do not harvest them when they are too tight or young.
Specific Types of Artichokes – Globe
Baby Anzio Artichoke
As its name implies, this type of artichoke is very small and red in color. In fact, they are usually no more than 1 inch in diameter, and they are thought to be the distant relative of the Romanesco artichoke.
Big Heart Artichoke
With a large, fleshy base, the Big Heart artichoke gets its name due to its shape, and if you’re looking for the perfect artichoke to stuff, this is it.
With a nice round shape, this type of artichoke contains a lot of Vitamin B, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants, and you can prepare it by boiling or steaming it. It has also been known to lower both blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as help with various digestive problems. Purchase and consume it from May to October for the best-tasting results.
True to its name, this type of artichoke has very unique-looking maroon leaves and is an Italian variety with a relationship to the Romanesco artichoke.
The Chinese artichoke is very sought-after throughout Europe, and it can be cooked almost any way, as well as eaten raw.
This type of artichoke has a great fruity flavor and a beautiful deep red color and its stem are very tender, which means it doesn’t take long to steam or cook it and start eating.
Green Globe Artichoke
Maturing in roughly 100 days, the Green Globe artichoke produces 3-4 large heads that get up to 5 inches in size. They are very thick and heavy, and they can produce for up to 5 years. The Green Globe artichoke also does best in zones 7 and above, and they have a very creamy, delicious flavor.
Imperial Star Artichoke
Imperial Star artichokes are ready to be harvested in 85 days and are mostly bred for annual production the first year when the seeds are planted. If you live in zones 1-6, you’ll have the best luck with this type of artichoke. The plants themselves get up to 4 feet wide and tall, and they usually produce 6-8 mature buds that are each 4 inches in diameter.
Jerusalem artichokes are generally knobby in appearance and are considered to be one of the earliest forms of tuber-like vegetables. They can also be called earth apples, sunroots, or sunchokes.
Just as its name implies, this is a huge type of artichoke that often weighs more than one pound. The leaves are green at the tips and they are very vivid in color, making for both an attractive and tasty option for those who love artichokes.
Mercury artichokes are unique in that their tops are very round, and it has reddish-purple tinges throughout the vegetable. If you compare this type of artichoke to others, the Mercury is always a bit sweeter in taste.
Omaha artichokes are dense and fat, and they have leaves that are red and green in color. Their taste is also a bit different than many other types of artichokes because it is not quite as bitter, making it very tasty indeed.
The Romanesco artichoke produces a lot of bronze and greenish-purple fruit and matures in roughly 85 days. There are many different varieties of the Romanesco artichoke, and they are heirloom varieties from Italy. They are perfect for home gardens and are extremely tasty as well.
Tempo artichokes are a hybrid type of artichoke that works best for gardeners who live in zones 1-6. The bracts on the artichokes have a purple tinge to them, and they produce 3-4 main buds that are each 5 inches in diameter. This is usually followed by up to 15 secondary buds that are up to 3 inches in size.