Another surprise harvest...

18 June, 2013

Well what do you know. The garden has done it again. Just when you think you've got it's measure... Bang! Surprise harvest.

This one came courtesy of a stall at the weekend farmers market. My mum and I were perusing the stalls, as is our wont, when we came across this:

Cardoons! (This is not the surprise harvest. Hang in there, it's coming.)

Now the stall owners, rightly guessing that many people (myself included) wouldn't have a clue how to cook this fearsome looking vegetable, had also set up a little table where they were selling cardoon fritters.

They were delicious! They had also very kindly decribed how they prepared the fritters (in the very vague recipe that is typical of Europeans - 'surely you know how to cook so this is as much info as you need...' - Don'cha just love their positivity!)

But even more excitedly, as I was talking to the lady cooking these delicacies, it turns out they aren't true cardoons, but just regular artichoke stems.

Oh! My! God! To think of all the times I've cut back the artichoke plants and the stems have just been chucked in the compost. Oh the waste! 

So this week I resolved to give these a try. I knew from garden walkabouts that one of the artichokes was overshadowing the garlic. A good opportunity to both give the garlic plants more sun and make artichoke stem fritters.



Having a basketful of leafy stems, I de-leafed them into the duck pen. Turns out ducks also like artichoke leaves.

I now had a few artichoke stems to fritter.

These were a bit stringier than I expected, so I pulled off the worst of the strings. Kinda like celery.

Then chopped into 10cm pieces they were put in a saucepan of water and boiled for around 20mins until they were soft enough to pierce with a knife.

The cooked stems were roughly chopped.

Then a batter of around 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan, 2 eggs, a pinch of salt and pepper, and about 3-4 tablespoons of water made a thick-ish batter.

Fried in the pan with a little olive oil they came up great.

The taste pretty darn good, with a faint flavour of artichoke heart. The only things I'd do differently is not use the top part of the stems i.e. anything less than 1 cm width, as these were a little more bitter and stringier, and make a bit more batter so they stick together better.

But either way I'm definitely not letting any more artichoke stems go to waste.


  1. Wow, mine of information happening here! Off to denude artichoke plants of all extraneous leaves..

    1. I found the bigger, chunkier stems most worth harvesting. Apparently (further internet reading speaking here) cardoons are often blanched, so I wonder if the stems from shadier areas might be tastier or more tender... I will be experimenting I think!

  2. That's fab. I don't grow artichokes so I will have to look out for them at the Farmers Markets.

    1. They are worth growing, if you should decide to give them a try. All of mine are mixed in with the ornamental plants and they work well, so don't need dedicated veg garden space...

  3. Magic! I love the look of artichokes but have never grown them, perhaps I will give them a go?

    1. Definitely give them a try! They are easy to grow from seed - I grow a green type variety Imperial Star (which always makes me think of star wars music...) and a purple type called Violetta which is much thornier in both artichoke flowers and the leaves. I prefer Imperial Star for what its worth.

  4. Who would have thought? Artichoke stems just seem so rough and tough. Good to know they have another use and so much growth there would be a lot of feeds out as they are so large

    1. I know. And now I don't need to wait for artichoke flower season for artichoke flavour! Its amazing the things you learn...