Fresh, local artichokes.  Have you noticed in your farmer’s markets and grocery stores……crates of local artichokes are starting to deliciously appear.

Artichokes are a marine climate vegetable and thrive in the cooler coastal climates.

Fun Facts About the Edible Thistle:
1. Artichokes where brought to the United States in the early 1800s by French immigrants settling in Louisiana. They made it to California in the late 1800s.

2. California now grows 100 percent of the artichokes eaten in the United States, and about 80 percent of the artichokes grown in California are grown in Monterey County.

3. Keep your artichokes fresh by sprinkling them with a little water, and stashing them in your refrigerator in an airtight plastic bag. (Artichokes shouldn’t be used as centerpieces if you don’t plan on eating them in the next 24 hours.)

4. Adding a clove of garlic, lemon, and a bay leaf to the water is said to infuse them with more flavor. (Although eating them pure and plain is a good way to really taste the artichoke flavor.)

5. Choose artichokes that feel heavy for it’s size and squeaks when squeezed—this means they are ripe and fresh.

6. A spring crop, the artichoke season is almost at its end, so if you haven’t had a chance to enjoy them (think: appetizer for your next dinner party), then you should do so before summer begins.

FRENCH FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS

1 cup fish batter mix
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup beer
2 pounds baby artichokes, prepared as directed and quartered*
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

solid all vegetable shortening for frying, about 1 inch deep Heat shortening to 350 degrees F. Mix together the batter mix, baking powder, water and beer. Dip artichokes in batter mix, then roll in bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese. Fry 2 or 3 minutes or until light golden brown.

ARTICHOKE CRAB DIP

1 c. crab meat
1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese
1 c. Hellman’s real mayonnaise
8 oz. can artichoke hearts, diced
1 sm. can water chestnuts
4 oz. sour cream or yogurt

Bake in shallow dish at 400 degrees until cheese bubbles. Serve hot. Toast – to go with dip: Sliced French bread (sliced finely), toasted; or English muffin, toasted in oven on both sides, cut into squares. Serve dip on toasts.

Join the fun at the upcoming CASTROVILLE ARTICHOKE FESTIVAL

May 21st and 22nd.   Click here for more details

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