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Artichokes are roughly two to five inches in diameter when harvested and can weigh up to 3 pounds. Their densely packed leaves form a compact floret with pistachio and lime green tones throughout. Each leaf contains a needle-like thorn on its tip and is usually cut off during preparation. Artichokes can be eaten raw when they are younger and more tender. A raw baby Artichoke is crisp, slightly bitter, tannic and nutty. When cooked, Artichokes develop flavors of toasted nuts, dry grass, and caramel.
Artichokes are available year-round with a peak season in spring.
Artichokes are the immature flower head of a herbaceous perennial thistle plant and a member of the Aster, Asteraceae family, also known as the Compositae family. When you eat an artichoke, you are eating, in essence, a flower bud. The first mature harvest of artichokes is known as the Kings, as it produces the largest-sized florets. Almost 100% of all Artichokes grown in the United States are grown in California.