how to prepare and cook artichokes

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I bet you’re wondering how can this tiny bud of a thistle flower be so intimidating. Cooking and eating an artichoke is not obvious from its appearance.

The heart (meaty core) is completely edible and seriously delicious. The fuzzy choke is too fibrous to eat in regular artichokes, but one hundred percent edible in baby artichokes. All but the innermost leaves are tough but once cooked you can scrape the tender parts with your teeth.

How to Choose which Artichokes to Buy

Here are a few tips to look for when shopping for artichokes:

  • Pick artichokes that feel heavy when you pick them up. If they feel light, they’re most likely dried out and not as meaty as they should be.
  • Another way to tell if an artichoke is fresh is by squeezing the artichoke. If you hear the leaves “squeak” then you are good to go. 

How to Cook an Artichoke

  1. First, remove about four to five of the toughest outer leaves, then place the artichoke on the table and grasp the stalk and snap away from the stem. You can also remove some of the tough fibres running up into the base and if the artichokes have little thorns on the ends of their leaves, cut off the tips using scissors.
  2. Now, slice the top part of the artichoke, about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.
  3. Remove any small leaves at the base by pulling off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.
  4. Remove the inedible choke by carefully spreading the leaves apart until you come to the central cone (thin, lightly coloured leaves). Pull the cone out and underneath you’ll find the hairy ‘choke’, scrape this out of the heart with a teaspoon. Rinse the artichokes in cold running water and leave them upside down in some cold water with a little lemon juice (to stop discolouration), until you are ready to cook them.

It’s important to remember that boiling artichokes in iron or aluminium pans can discolour them.

Boiling Artichokes

In a large saucepan filled with salted boiling water and a tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar, gently boil the artichokes for about 30-40 minutes or when one of the outer leaves pulls away easily. Once tender, drain the artichokes upside down in a colander and shake them to get rid of any excess water.

Steaming Artichokes

Bring a pot with a steaming basket to a boil. Place the artichokes on top of the steaming basket and reduce to a simmer. Steam the artichokes for 30-35 minutes and the outer leaves pull away easily.

How to Eat Artichokes

Artichokes can be served cold or at room temperature. Pull off a leaf one at a time and eat the tender rounded part at the base by gripping the other end of the leaf and with your teeth remove the soft, pulpy, delicious part of the leaf. When you arrive at the heart, cut it into sections and eat it with a dipping sauce, melted butter or a vinaigrette. Eating an artichoke can get messy, so don’t forget to have plenty of napkins and a large plate to discard the leaves.

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