Artichokes are the edible immature flowers of a cultivated thistle. There are more than 50 varieties of globe artichokes grown around the world. They possess a distinctly sweet, nutty flavor and are popular in French, Italian, and Spanish cuisine. Look for unblemished artichokes that are tightly closed and vibrant in color. Don't be intimidated by artichokes -- they're easy to cut, peel, and cook in just a few steps. We'll show you how.
Use these tips to select and store artichokes:
Tip: Generally, the smaller the artichoke, the more tender it will be. However, plump, round-looking artichokes tend to have a larger heart, which is the sweetest part of the artichoke.
Wash artichokes just before cooking. If you wash artichokes before storing, the moisture could cause them to spoil more rapidly.
Step 2: Slice off the stem end of each artichoke
Cut off and discard the end of the stem. Or remove the entire stem at the base if you plan to serve the artichokes standing upright.
Peel off the outer set of leaves closest to the stem.
Step 4: Remove the top from each artichoke
If you are stuffing the artichokes or simply want to remove the majority of the prickly leaf tips for safer eating, trim the top off of each artichoke. To do this, use a sharp, sturdy knife to cut off about 1 inch from the pointed top of each artichoke.
Tip: Be sure to use a stainless-steel, enameled, or other nonreactive pot to cook artichokes to prevent discoloration or off flavors.
To eat a whole cooked artichoke: Break off each leaf one at a time; dip the leaf into melted butter, mayonnaise, or some other sauce and draw the base of the leaf through your teeth to remove the tender portion. After all the leaves have been removed, scrape off the inedible prickly "choke" to expose the inner artichoke heart. The heart is now ready to cut into pieces and enjoy.
To use the cooked artichoke heart in a recipe: Peel leaves from artichokes. Scrape off the inedible prickly "choke" to expose the heart. Cut the heart in half or as directed in a recipe.