Artichokes aren’t just good for you. They’re great for you - high in fiber, vitamin C, Magnesium, and Potassium. They have 60 calories each, no fat, and 7 grams fiber. And, in 2007, a study from researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture found that artichokes ranked seventh in total antioxidant capacity per serving out of more than 1000 common foods!!! But, to most, artichokes are intimidating. I guess that comes with the territory when you’re talking about a vegetable with sharp, pointy leaves, and a choke that can, well, actually choke you.
Sadly, most people only experience artichokes in a greasy dip on chips or crackers. Some folks eat them steamed, dipping the leaves into what is usually just a fancy mayonnaise, but even that is a little intimidating. If you find yourself facing a steamed artichoke, just pull each leaf off the choke, dip it into the fancy mayonnaise, hold the pointed end between your fingers, and drag the leaf between your teeth.
But these aren’t the only ways you can enjoy artichokes. You can braise them, stuff them, bake them, and grill them if you know a few tricks. Here are a some tips that hopefully, will make them less scary!
- When prepping an artichoke for cooking, you should remove the dark leaves until you reach the lighter green, softer leaves in the center.
- Artichokes oxidize (turn brown when the skin is broken) quickly. Most recipes call for you to submerge them in acidulated water (which is water with lemon juice) but I fell like that water logs the little guys. So I just keep a cut lemon close by and rub it over areas immediately after I’ve made a cut or broken the skin.
- The choke is the hairy mess standing in the way of the delicious heart. Whether you remove all of the leaves or just the tough, dark green leaves, you can use a spoon to scrape it out.
- The stem is an extension of that delicious heart so be careful not to remove too much of the stem when prepping. Simply cut the woody part of the stem off and use a vegetable peeler to trim the bottom just as you would trim asparagus.
- Don’t try to freeze raw artichokes because they will turn brown and lose their flavor. The easiest way to store them for the long haul is to steam them and freeze them. To freeze: Trim the tops from artichokes and rub the cut surfaces with lemon. Cook artichoke until they are “al dente” in water with about 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Drain upside down thoroughly. Place upside down on tray and freeze immediately. When frozen, place in plastic bags for storage. To thaw and cook: Wrap each artichoke in aluminum foil, sealed tightly. Place into a steamer basket above boiling water. Cover and steam until hot and cooked through.
- Artichokes are in peak season from March to May (so get em while you can!) and you should use them within 4 days of purchasing them, storing them unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Now that you know some tips, stay tuned for some recipes…