Artichoke

  • The geographical area of production includes 33 villages of the Ribera de Navarra, being its centre the district of Tudela.


    mapa alcachofa
  • In Navarre, the lands which constitute the axis or corridor of the river Ebro, from Mendavia to Cortes, have been and still are areas which produce vegetables. Among them, the probably most cultivated one is the artichoke, which digs its roots into the far away past. The encyclopaedia of Navarre dates the existence of this cultivation in Tudela in the times of the Arabic domination, although without giving an exact date. The product was being sold until the well into the twentieth century in the local markets. The installation of the canning industry stimulated the expansion of the cultivation, which began to occupy a significant surface among the irrigation crops of the region of Navarre.

    The tenacity of the farmers of Tudela have led them, after successive selection years, to the achievement of a type of artichoke cultivation known as "Blanca de Tudela", which has become the vegetative reproduction material most widely used in Spain. In fact, a significant number of farmers of the area produce, apart from the food item which is the main profitable and common use of this plant (the artichokes as we eat them) the "rootstocks", or plantation material. This material is composed by the cuttings of the underground part of the plant, which can be obtained when the harvest is over, during the summer.


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  • The origin of the artichoke is to be found on the Mediterranean basin, although the exact place is not known. It is just known as a cultivated plant (not wild) and it belongs to the family of the Compositae, with the scientific name of Cynara scolymus L. It is a herbaceous plant with has a powerful root system which provides the plant with all nutrients. On the root, a stem with very short internodes, in each of which, a leaf is formed. This makes up a set called rosette. From the centre of this rosette, the stem which is to produce an inflorescence or head which constitutes the edible part of the plant.

    The artichoke is a typical plant of warm regions. In fact, countries of the Mediterranean area such as France, Spain, or Italy gather 80% of the world production and consumption.


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  • The cultivation of the Alcachofa de Tudela is annual regarding the product destined for fresh consumption and can even be biennial regarding the product destined for canning. In the annual cultivation mode, the plantation must be taken out completely during the summer stop and substituted by a new one. In the biennial cultivations, this removal can be carried out during the second summer stop after plantation. The plantation should be done between the last two weeks of July and the first week of August, using “rootstalks” from the year before, obtained from the cultivation of "Blanca de Tudela". The rootstalk is a portion of the rhizome of the plant, with 2 or 3 cauline tips which are apparent and viable. Theplantation density will range between 8,000 and 12,000 plants per hectare, and the plantation material shall come from producers who are inscribed in the Official Register of Producers, Manufacturers, and Importers of seeds, and plants.

    The harvesting is carried out manually, selecting the artichokes depending on their stage of maturity and with successive harvesting tours, with weekly intervals on average. In the annual cultivation mode, the first fruits begin to be ready at the end of February or beginning or March, although if the biennial cultivation is forced to the maximum, it is possible to harvest something in autumn.


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  • To be able to be included in the Protected Geographical Indication, the fresh manufactured artichokes must fit in the commercial categories of Extra and First Class, being possible to belong to two calibre levels: artichokes between 60 and 90 mm and artichokes of more than 90 mm. The presentation can be:

    • artichokes with stem and leaves
      The stem can measure up to 18 cm and have 1 or 2 whole leaves. They are sold in dozens.
    • artichokes without stem
      The stem shall not be longer than 10 cm and must not have any leave. They are sold by kilograms.

    The wooden, plastic, or cardboard packages must belong to the models authorised by the Regulatory Board and to bear the back labels or bands which guarantee the authenticity of the product.


    Fresh


    Fresh
  • The fruits destined for the canning industry, once selected by following specific criteria, proceed to the calibration process, whose purpose is to separate the artichokes in several sizes to be able to adjust the blanching process. This is implemented by inserting the artichokes in boiling water or water stem for a period which can last between two and seven minutes (depending on the size) and by refreshing them immediately afterwards.

    After peeling them (1) and removing the hard and not edible leaves, the fruit undergoes a new selection, being discarded those that are damaged, broken, etc., to carry a new classification according to their size (2). Then, the artichokes are weighted and packaged (3), and the process ends with the sterilisation (4) in the autoclave. The use of acidifier substances or additives to correct acidity is not allowed in any moment of the process.

     

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    In the market, we can find jars with whole artichokes and halves, and must always be in glass jars. Each jar must bear a numbered back label with the symbol of the Protected Geographical Indication, which certifies their authenticity, and guarantees that the product has been treated and elaborated in accordance with the Regulations.


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