|Information below is supplied from: California Artichoke Advisory Board,
P.O. Box 747 10719 Merritt Street Castroville, CA 95012 artichokes.org
One hundred percent of all artichokes grown commercially
in the United States are grown in California. Approximately 75 percent
of the state's total acreage lies within Monterey County. And while artichokes
were ranked only 11th in crop value for this agriculturally rich area,
with an estimated worth more than $37 million, growers point proudly to
the fact that the artichoke is the county's Official Vegetable. Stop at
one of the artichoke restaurants and dine on farm fresh produce, including
some of the biggest artichokes available on the planet!
Three fourths of the state's artichoke acreage is located
near Castroville. Two major artichoke packers are located here, along
with the nation's only artichoke processing plant. Is it any wonder that
the townspeople have proclaimed Castroville "The Artichoke Center of the
World," and that they celebrate with the annual Artichoke Festival in May?
||WHAT IS AN ARTICHOKE? A native of the Mediterranean,
the artichoke is a perennial in the thistle group of the sunflower (Compositae)
family. In full growth, the plant spreads to cover an area about six feet
in diameter and reaches a height of three to four feet. Its long, arching,
deeply serrated leaves give the plant a fern-like appearance. The Green
Globe cultivar accounts for essentially all the artichokes grown in this
The "vegetable" that we eat is actually the plant's flower
bud. If allowed to flower, the blossoms measure up to seven inches in diameter
and are a beautiful violet-blue color. The size of the bud depends upon
where it is located on the plant. The largest are "terminal" buds produced
at the end of the long central stems. These are the ones you are most likely
to see from the car during a springtime drive throughout the area. Buds
are smaller lower on the stem.
GROWING CONDITIONS The Green Globe artichoke prefers temperate
climates--never too hot or cold. The central coast of California, where
winters are relatively frost-free and summers are cool and moist with fog,
is an ideal growing area. Here, too, are deep, fertile, well-drained soils
which promote maximum root development. Artichoke production happens
year-round, but more than half of the crop is harvested between March and
May. The fall crop generally peaks in October.
GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER Most people cook the
whole artichoke, and slip each leaf petal, one by one, through their teeth
until they reach the delectable heart. Children love them because the get
to eat artichokes with their fingers! The artichoke is fun to eat,
and it's good for you. One 12-ounce artichoke is a good source of vitamin
C, folate and potassium. It's low in sodium, fat-free and a dieter's delight
at only 25 calories.
California Events for festival
dates or visit the official Artichoke Festival web
site http://www.artichoke-festival.org Eat, drink and sleep
artichokes. When you visit Castroville, there's even an Artichoke Inn.