Artichoke, Cardoon

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Artichoke, Cardoon

Botanical Name: Cardunculus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Cardoon (Scolymus Cardunculus, Linn.) is by some botanists regarded as merely a variety of this plant, but by others as a distinct species. The blanched inner leafstalks and the top of the stalk, the receptacle, are the only parts eaten, used in soups, stews and salads. It is more cultivated on the Continent than here. Dioscorides refers to its cultivation on a large scale near Great Carthage, and Pliny speaks of its medicinal virtues. Dodoens, in his History of Plants (1559), describes it as much more spinescent than the Articoca of Italy and less used as food.

Cultivation: It requires so much room that it is little grown in small gardens, and as a crop can hardly pay for the enormous extent of ground that it claims.

Its culture is very similar to that of celery, only on a rather larger scale, the trenches being made wider and slightly deeper than those for the latter, and the plants being placed about 18 inches to 2 feet apart in the rows and 6 feet between the rows. The trenches are prepared in just the same way as those for celery.

Sow three or four seeds in a 'large sixty' pot, in April, placing the pots in a gentle warmth, or in a cold frame, when the seed will soon germinate. Mice are very fond of the seed, consequently the frame must be kept close enough to prevent their entry, or the whole will be destroyed.

When the little plants appear, select the strongest plant in each pot and pull out all the others. In due course the plants are hardened off and planted out, usually in July, before they become potbound, in the previously prepared trenches, which have been well manured, about 18 inches or more apart, keeping them well supplied with water. Occasionally forking or hoeing between the plants to encourage growth and destroy weeds will be all that is required besides watering, until September or October, when they will be ready to earth up in order to blanch them.

Before doing this, it is usual to arrange the stalks upright and wind a hay-band round them closely, to within about a foot of the tops. This soil must then be earthed up nearly as high as the hay-bands. It is important that this operation should be performed on a dry day, when the hearts are free from water, or they will probably decay. No earth, also, must be allowed to fall between the leaves. When the plants have grown still further, the earthing up should be increased.

The plants will be fit for use in about a month after earthing up and may be taken up as required. Should Cardoons be in great demand, an earlier or later sowing may be made for successional crops; for spring crop, sow at midsummer. If the plants have to be kept for any length of time during winter, they must be protected from rain and frost by means of a covering of litter, or may be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place, the hay-bands being allowed to remain.

When taking up, remove the earth carefully and take up the plants by the roots, which must be cut off. The points of the leaves are also cut off to where they are solid and blanched. These latter are washed, the parts of the leaf-stalks remaining on the stem are tied to it, and they are ready for cooking.

The SPANISH CARDOON, with large solid ribs and spineless leaves, is the one most generally grown. It is not so liable to run to seed as the common variety.

In France, the TOURS CARDOON is much cultivated, but, on account of the long, sharp spines on the leaves, great care has to be exercised in working amongst them.

Uses: Cardoons are said to yield a good yellow dye, and in some parts of Spain they substitute the down of this plant for rennet in making cheese; a strong infusion is made overnight and the next morning, when the milk is warm from the cow, they put nearly half a pint of the infusion to about 14 gallons of milk.

RECIPES Artichoke Bottoms:
If dried, they must be soaked, then stewed in weak gravy, and served with or without forcemeat in each. Or they may be boiled in milk, and served with cream sauce; or added to ragouts, French pies, etc.

To Dress Artichokes:
Trim a few of the outside leaves off, and cut the stalk even. If young, half an hour will boil them. They are better for being gathered two or three days, first. Serve them with melted butter, in as many small cups as there are Artichokes, to help with each.

To keep Artichokes for the Winter:
Artichoke bottoms, slowly dried, should be kept in paper bags.

Artichokes à la Barigoule:
Trim some small Artichokes, and with the handle of an iron tablespoon scoop out all the fibrous part inside, Put about a pound of clean hog's-lard into a frying-pan on the fire, and when quite hot, fry the bottom of the Artichokes in it for about 3 minutes; then turn them upside down, and fry the tips of the leaves also, drain them upon a cloth to absorb all the grease, and fill them with a similar preparation to that directed for tomatoes a la Provencale; tie them up with a string, and place them in a large stewpan or fricaudeaupan; moisten with a little good stock; put the lid on; place them in the oven to simmer for about an hour; remove the strings, fill the centre of each Artichoke with some Italian sauce; dish them up with some of the sauce, and serve.

Artichokes à la Lyonnaise:
Pull off the lower leaves without damaging the bottoms of the Artichokes, which must be turned smooth with a sharp knife; cut the Artichokes into quarters, remove the fibrous parts, trim them neatly, and parboil them in water with a little salt. Then put them in a saucepan on a slow fire to simmer very gently for about three-quarters of an hour, taking care that they do not burn; when done they should be of a deep yellow colour and nicely glazed. Dish them up in the form of a dome, showing the bottom of the Artichokes only; remove any leaves that may have broken off in the sautapan; add a spoonful of brown gravy or sauce, 2 pats of butter and some lemon-juice, simmer this over the fire, stirring it meanwhile with a spoon; and when the butter has been mixed in with the sauce, pour it over the Artichokes, and serve.