Picking An Artichoke – When And How To Harvest Artichokes
The time to pick artichokes varies from year to year depending on the season and the variety. There are many different varieties of artichokes available at your local market or even online. You can choose which ones you want to eat and then decide what kind of harvesting method will work best for you.
Artichokes have a long shelf life so they need to be picked before their natural lifespan ends. If you don’t pick them soon enough, they will die and become bitter. Some types of artichokes such as the purple variety tend to last longer than others.
Purple artichokes are harvested in late summer or early fall and they are ready for eating by wintertime. Other kinds like the red variety may not be ready until springtime.
If you’re picking your own artichokes, it’s always better to pick them during the day since they are easier to peel off the vines. Pick only a few at a time because too much will make them tough and bitter. Once peeled, cut each one into bite size pieces and store in airtight containers (plastic bags) in the refrigerator until needed.
They keep well up to three months.
You can also find canned or jarred baby artichokes in oil, water or even sun dried. Since these are already cleaned and cut up they require very little preparation. They also store longer but can be quite expensive.
They are most often found in the Italian or Greek section of your local market.
You can also grow your own artichokes at home and get them fresh from the garden. They take a long time to grow and the plants are vulnerable to pests so be prepared for this type of project. There are two different kinds available.
The first is the common globe or French variety. This plant is easy to grow. It has a large heart that can get up to 12 inches in diameter. The second kind is called a cardoon. It’s much larger than other artichokes growing up to five feet tall and 15 inches in diameter. The edible portion is the flower bud before it opens. There are also several varieties of cardoon.
Your local nursery or garden center will have these plants available. They are usually started in the greenhouse so you may need to ask for them. They are sold by volume such as 25 centimeter pots or one gallon containers.
This is a task that is best done over two years. The first year, plant them outside about two months before the last frost in your area. It is best to put a small raised bed or large container filled with fertile soil in an area that receives full sun most of the day.
When you put them in the ground, add a layer of mulch around the plants to keep the roots cool. Check on them periodically since artichokes need lots of water.
The second year, the plants will grow large flower buds. For a globe artichoke this will be between mid summer and early fall. For a cardoon artichoke, it can take as long as December.
Be sure to keep the plants well weeded since they have a large growth habit.
Harvest your artichokes by breaking off the budding flower head. This may take some strength since they can put up quite a fight!
Once you’ve harvested all you want, cut off the stems at the base of the plant. You can leave these in a cool dry place for a few weeks to ripen until you are ready to use them. Don’t leave them out in the sun or they will turn yellow and become inedible.
Sources & references used in this article:
Design and simulation of two robotic systems for automatic artichoke harvesting by D Longo, G Muscato – Robotics, 2013 – mdpi.com
Wild artichokes of south Italy: did the story begin here? by D Pignone, G Sonnante – Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 2004 – Springer
MECHANICALLY-AIDED HARVESTING OF ARTICHOKE WITH AN ELECTRICALLY PROPELLED PROTOTYPE by R TOMASONE, M PAGANO, C CEDROLA, PF RECCHI… – researchgate.net
Preharvest application of methyl jasmonate as an elicitor improves the yield and phenolic content of artichoke by A Martínez-Esplá, D Valero… – Journal of agricultural …, 2017 – ACS Publications
New horizons for artichoke cultivation by JI Macua – VI International Symposium on Artichoke, Cardoon and …, 2006 – actahort.org
The artichoke: a travelling companion in the social life, traditions and culture by VV Bianco – VII International Symposium on Artichoke, Cardoon …, 2009 – actahort.org