The artichoke was first developed in Sicily and was known to both Greeks and Romans. In 77 AD Roman naturalist Pliny called choke one of earth's monstrosities, but many continued to eat them. Historical accounts show that wealthy Romans enjoyed artichokes prepared in honey and vinegar, seasoned with cumin, so that this treat would be available year round.
It was not until early twentieth century that artichokes were grown in United States. All artichokes commercially grown in United States are grown in California and Castroville, California, claims to be "Artichoke Capital of World." California even has an Artichoke Queen — most famous queen was Marilyn Monroe in 1947. She inspired more people to eat artichokes in that year reign than any year before or after.
Artichokes are actually a flower bud - if allowed to flower, blossoms measure up to seven inches in diameter and are a violet-blue color. Artichokes are a close relative to thistle.
Varieties Green Globe: year round and peaks in spring. Desert Globe: available from December through March and July to September. Big Heart: year round, with a lull in April. Imperial Star: year round and peaks in spring.
Selection High-quality artichokes are usually compact and heavy for their size. Squeezed, a fresh artichoke will make a squeak. The thickness of each stalk should correspond to size of artichoke. Thin stalks signal dehydration, so look for stalks that are firm without “give.”
Storage Artichokes remain fairly constant in appearance for weeks, but flavor is adversely affected from moment they are cut from stalk. For maximum taste and tenderness, cook as soon as possible. Do not stock up on artichokes. Refrigerate unwashed, in a plastic bag, for up to 1 week.
Preparation Artichokes should be washed under cold running water. Pull off lower petals and cut stems to one inch or less. Cut top quarter of each artichoke and snip off sharp tips. Artichokes turn brown very quickly once they are cut. To preserve green color, one may dip in lemon water. Hardware