Artichokes are actually the roots of a thistle plant with long, purple flowers. Artichokes are often grown for the edible root, but they are sometimes grown in gardens just for their flowers. They are very popular across Europe, but they are also grown in South Africa and eaten across the United Kingdom and in the United States. A less popular variety of the artichoke, the Jerusalem artichoke, is actually the root of a certain type of sunflower native to North America. Artichokes are very versatile and you can cook them in a huge number of ways – we've got plenty of artichoke recipes, from creamy artichoke soup to hot artichoke and spinach dip and everything in between.

Artichokes can be bought in a number of ways – fresh and whole, tinned artichoke hearts in water and jarred artichoke hearts in oil. Tinned and jarred artichoke hearts are great for ease of use – they just need to be chopped and heated through, making them super simple to use. Jarred artichoke hearts in oil have a little extra flavour than tinned, as they tend to be marinated in herbs or seasonings and are ready to eat straight from the jar.

Whole globe artichokes are a little more difficult to prepare, but the results are delicious. To prepare globe artichokes, you need to remove the outer fibrous leaves and the fuzzy choke from inside the artichoke. The leaves are edible, but usually, the fibrous tip of the leaves is discarded. If artichokes are covered during the cooking process, they can discolour, so add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the pan to prevent browning. Often, the leaves from the artichoke are removed one by one and dipped into a sauce or dressing as desired.

Whichever way you choose to cook your artichokes, make sure you remove the choke before serving – it's not pleasant as isn't really edible.