If you’ve been growing globe artichokes, then they are probably getting close to harvest time by now…and you want to make sure you harvest them at the perfect moment for a truly tasty artichoke experience. A word of warning to those who have only just planted artichokes this year – they will probably produce some small artichoke heads, but you’ll be better off to cut them off while they are still small buds before they mature so that the plant can get nice and strong. Being patient and counting your losses like this will give you better crops in future years, but of course you may not be able to resist temptation!!
So, the most important thing is to pick your artichokes before they start to open out as they lose flavour once they begin opening out into flowers. Check that the scales on the fruit are all still closed in and pointing towards the heart of the artichoke and that the top hasn’t started to turn brown. Pick the ‘king’ head first (the first one that appears) and then lots of other buds will start to grow into nice big artichokes so you’ll be able to keep harvesting them over a few weeks.
Cut off the artichokes with secateurs approx 10cm down the stalk, but be careful not to cut off any young buds by mistake, as you’ll want them to stay on the plant so that they too can grow into edible artichokes.
The most common way to prepare them is to boil them whole for approx 40 mins, serve with melted butter, peeling off each scale and dipping it into the butter to eat the tender flesh (not the whole thing!) until you reach the juicy artichoke heart. Best done in the sunshine.