Preparing artichokes

100_3927 smUntil we grew them ourselves, I really didn’t know how to prepare artichokes. How does one make a giant thistle flower edible?

Now, I don’t think twice about prepping a dozen artichokes for dinner. It’s time-consuming, and can be painful (they are thistles, after all), but it’s not difficult.

If you’re preparing your artichokes for use in a pasta, risotto, pizza, or other dish, you need to remove all the really tough and prickly bits.

100_3929 smStart by snapping off the outer bud scales until the remaining scales are pale and soft about half way to their tips. I find this easiest to do by pushing sideways with my thumb—the scale snaps cleanly off, and I avoid the spine on the tip of the scale.

100_3931 smNext cut off the top third of the artichoke with a large knife (cut where the remaining scales change from soft to tough).

Peel the stem with a paring knife, then cut the artichoke in half lengthwise.

Nice and young--no need to remove the choke.

Nice and young–no need to remove the choke.

Check the inside of the artichoke—there is a part known as the choke, made of spiky hairs. If these are soft and small, you don’t need to do anything. If they are long and stiff, use the tip of your knife to cut them out.

Then, cut your artichoke into whatever size pieces you want, and drop them into acidulated water (water with a generous amount of lemon juice in it), to prevent them from browning. You won’t be able to prevent all browning, but the brown seems to largely vanish during cooking.100_3936 sm


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