The globe artichoke is a large perennial thistle. I love their silvery green leaves as a texture in the garden. They develop a large edible head, and if it is not eaten, this head turns into a large purple flower.

So often I look at them in the garden, when they are just perfect for eating, I beco

me distracted, then missing the opportunity, they bolt into flower! You win either way, as they are delicious to eat, but if you miss them the iridescent purple flowers also look attractive in the garden.

This year I pickled all my artichoke heads in one fell swoop, and decided to preserve all the hearts. I am so glad I did as the jar became an ever-present accompaniment to the cobbled together lunches one has while on holidays.  Or shall we say just another thing to give variation in a sandwich to the endless parade of ham that keeps trotting out in the lazy days following Christmas.  Just another thing, with such a unique flavour to have on hand to add to a green salad with sliced hearts on top; as a topping on pizza with mushrooms and prosciutto; added with cooked potatoes and eggs in a frittata; or simply as part of an antipasti plate.

It is so worthwhile making the extra effort to capture that subtle, elusive flavour. Preserving them yourself gives you an advantage over the ones bought from the supermarket, which to my taste seem to have lost their curious and refreshing delicacy of flavour.

Preserved artichoke hearts.

3 cups white wine vinegar

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper corns

1 tsp coriander seeds

juice of one lemon

a sprig of thyme

4 bay leaves

About 3 cups of olive oil

4 sealable sterilised jars

In a large saucepan combine vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns, coriander, thyme and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, and set aside.

Trim outer leaves of the artichoke, just leaving the tender pale yellow leaves. You will need a large bin for the leaves, as there are so many!

Cut off the top of remaining leaves, and trim the base of any green fibrous or dark green parts. As you finish each artichoke, drop it in the pot of vinegar and spices, where they will discolour without the acidulated water.

When all the artichokes are prepared, bring the pot back to the boil and cook until the artichokes are tender, usually about 10 minutes. Leave them to cool in the liquid.

When cool, drain the artichokes.

To preserve them for 6 months or more, use a Vacola bottling kettle, or any large saucepan.

Halve the drained artichokes and take the choke out with a knife or a teaspoon. The choke is the fibrous hairy part in the centre.

Pack the cut artichokes into jars, distributing the spices evenly. Cover the artichokes with olive oil. Put the lids on jars. Boil jars for 25 minutes. Store in a cool dark place for two to four weeks before opening. Once opened refrigerate.

I did not preserve mine in the vacola. I stored mine in the fridge in olive oil. Cooking them in the vinegar should help to keep them for at least a month. Any longer and you will you need to treat them in the water bath as above.

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