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CASTROVILLE, Calif. - In the wake of recent widespread frosts throughout California's key growing regions, Ocean Mist Farms here is touting highly flavorful "frost kissed" artichokes that are now in stores for a limited time.
"The impact of frost on artichokes is similar to how human skin reacts to sunburn," said Kori Tuggle, Ocean Mist's marketing manager. "Frost turns the outside layer of the artichoke dark brown, and then it flakes and peels." Once cooked, the brown exterior layer is removed, resulting in the soft green artichoke that people are familiar with.
"Frosting is strictly a cosmetic condition," Tuggle said. "While the brownish color may not look pretty, frost kissed artichokes actually taste wonderful. The cold weather concentrates the natural artichoke flavors into an intense, nutty flavor."
Because frost kissed artichokes look different than green artichokes, Ocean Mist Farms is implementing a culinary education program to teach shoppers about how good they taste.
The company posted information on its Web site with pictures and recipes and is sending that information to all members of its "Artichoke Aficionados" club. The company is also sending display cards to the retail customers who are stocking frost kissed artichokes in their stores the new few weeks.
"A frost kissed artichoke is a very unique item that we don't have every season," said Tuggle, noting that because of their seasonality, "we have to teach shoppers to look for them and be sure to buy them during the short time they are in the stores."
Artichokes become "frost kissed" when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. Following a freeze, artichoke plants take two to three weeks to start producing frost free artichokes again.