Protected by the "Tudela Artichoke" Designation of Quality
, they are grown in 33 municipalities in the Ribera region of Navarre, especially within the catchment area of Tudela, the main town in the area.
Known as the 'flower of the market garden'
for their characteristic shape, the only variety grown in Navarre is the "Blanca de Navarra". This variety can be distinguished from others by its rounded shape and a circular orifice in the upper part, because the leaves do not meet up to close the flower-head off. Another characteristic feature is their 15-20 centimetre stem and two leaves, and they are also very tender with no down inside.
Planting takes place at the beginning of August, while the harvest is done by hand in phases; every seven or eight days in spring
, and every six days in autumn
. There is a second sprouting which is harvested in the middle of March, and sometimes even a third one, which goes into production around the middle of July.
People have believed in the curative and cleansing powers
of the artichoke since time immemorial. Whether cooked or taken as an infusion, they possess considerable tonic, digestive, diuretic, anti-rheumatic and liver cleansing properties. To prevent loss of vitamin C and blackening from the oxygen in the air, the cut surfaces of artichokes should be drizzled with a few drops of lemon juice.
Artichokes can be eaten fried, baked, as an ingredient of the famous regional mixed vegetable stew, with clams or with cured ham. There are a thousand ways of cooking them, and all are delicious. To extol the profusion of produce from the market gardens of La Ribera, every year in May a Vegetable Celebration Week
is held in Tudela featuring all kinds of events, technical seminars, gastronomic competitions and produce tasting sessions, amongst other activities.