• Do You Know the Application of Artichoke in Cooking?
  • Artichoke, or Cynara scolymus, is a perennial plant of the thistle or daisy family. It is eaten throughout many parts of the world as a delicacy, and artichoke extract is used for several health benefits. Artichoke extract is taken from the long, serrated leaves at the base of the plant. This is the area of the plant that is most dense in biologically-active compounds, which are considered to be the health benefits of artichoke extract.
     

    Artichoke
    Artichoke
     

    Artichokes can be produced from seeds or from vegetative means such asdivision, root cuttings or micropropagation. Though technically perennials that normally produce the edible flower only during the second and subsequent years, certain varieties of artichoke can be grown from seed as annuals, producing a limited harvest at the end of the first growing season, even in regions where the plants are not normally winter-hardy. This means home gardeners in northern regions can attempt to produce a crop without the need to overwinter plants with special treatment or protection. The recently introduced seed cultivar 'Imperial Star' has been bred to produce in the first year without such measures. An even newer cultivar, 'Northern Star', is said to be able to overwinter in more northerly climates, and readily survives subzero temperatures.

    In Italy, artichoke hearts in oil are the usual vegetable for 'spring' section of the 'Four Seasons' pizza (with olives for summer, mushrooms for autumn, andprosciutto for winter). A recipe well known in Rome is Jewish-style artichokes, which are deep-fried whole.

    Stuffed artichoke recipes are abundant. A common Italian stuffing uses a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, oregano, parsley, grated cheese, and prosciutto or sausage. A bit of the mixture is then pushed into the spaces at the base of each leaf and into the center before boiling or steaming. A similar recipe is popular in coastal Croatia.

    In Spain, the more tender, younger, and smaller artichokes are used. They can be sprinkled with olive oil and left in hot ashes in a barbecue, sauteed in olive oil with garlic, with rice as a paella, or sautéed and combined with eggs in a tortilla (frittata).

    Another way to use artichokes is to completely break off all of the leaves, leaving the bare heart. The leaves are steamed to soften the fleshy base part of each leaf to be used as the basis for any number of side dishes or appetizing dips, or the fleshy part is left attached to the heart, while the upper parts of the leaves are discarded. The remaining concave-shaped heart is often filled with meat, then fried or baked in a savory sauce. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the consistency and stronger flavor of fresh hearts when available is preferred.

    Besides, milk thistle has also been known to be used as food. The roots can be eaten raw or boiled and buttered or par-boiled and roasted. The young shoots in spring can be cut down to the root and boiled and buttered. The spiny bracts on the flower head were eaten in the past like globe artichoke, and the stems (after peeling) can be soaked overnight to remove bitterness and then stewed. The leaves can be trimmed of prickles and boiled and make a good spinach substitute or they can also be added raw to salads. Milk Thistle Extract has the function of detoxification, reducing the blood fat, benefiting the gallbladder, protecting the brain and removing the free radical of body.

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