Artichokes: Getting to The Heart of the Matter | Wednesday’s In the Know
The year was 2013 and I was asked to help organize a trip for celebrity chef Curtis Stone, whom I was working for at the time, and his culinary team of superstars at Maude–Beverly Hills–to visit the land of Artichokes in Castroville. I wasn’t sure, nor did any of us, what we were getting ourselves into, but the town came together and offered us an incredible itinerary for the less than 24 hours we were in town. Little did we know, in that time, we would not only eat an abundance of artichokes, but that we would be able to walk the fields and actually help harvest the artichokes adorned with all the appropriate gear, of course.
What I learned was fascinating, but even more so, my newfound appreciation toward artichokes and all that went into now only preparing the soil for harvest but the actual harvesting process. What I also enjoyed, was seeing the entire community rally behind artichokes like a community rallies around their football team. In fact, they even have an artichoke festival equipped with an artichoke queen and all! It was an incredible trip and one that I will never forget.
For those of you interested in learning more about artichokes, I have put together some great links that speak to their beauty, flavor and incredible nutritional benefits. Because, at the end of the day, if you are like me, you just like to get right to the heart of it. And yes, pun intended!
Before we begin, here are some fun facts from the California Artichoke Advisory Board:
· Virtually 100 percent of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.
· Total crop value of artichokes for the 2007-2008 crop season was over $50 million.
· Artichoke production occurs year-round, but nearly one-third the crop is harvested between March and May. There is another smaller peak that generally happens in October.
· Artichoke acreage for the 2007-2008 crop year was 7,772.
· The artichoke is the Official Vegetable of Monterey County.
· Average production over the past 5 years has been over 4 million cartons for the entire state and 533 cartons per acre. Twenty years ago the industry harvested an average of 300 cartons per acre. This huge gain can be attributed in large part to the increase in annual acreage.
· Castroville, a town with a population of a little more than 5,000 and located in Monterey County, is the self-proclaimed “Artichoke Center of the World” because three-fourths of all California artichokes are grown in this area.
· As recognition of this status, Ladispoli, Italy, a town near Rome that grows some very famous artichokes, picked Castrovillle as a sister city.
And, to continue your quest for curiosity, check out these great resources from cooking to handling and even the festival so you can mark your calendar! P.S. all links are hyperlinked.
Artichoke Festival: June 3 – 4, 2017. Castroville, CA. Click the hyperlink for more details and mark your calendars!
For other terrific tips and hundreds of recipes, visit my website (thetabletogether.com). While there, consider “subscribing” and I will send a new tip or blog post directly to your inbox every Tuesday and Wednesday morning!
P.S. Make sure you check out my YouTube channel, The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis, solely dedicated to bringing all of these fantastic tips and recipes to life!
Cheers to starting a new tradition around The Table Together!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!