Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Sam
Do you know how to pick a good artichoke? Artichokes are great-tasting vegetables but so many people have little knowledge on how to select a good artichoke. This veg may look a bit intimidating and odd, but they are actually quite easy to prepare.
Artichoke can be pretty difficult to make. This is usually because of its poky and tightly packed leaves that may seem difficult to dive into. But once you’ve learned to properly cut or trim them and even prepare them, you get to enjoy the tender leaves and their great-tasting flavor.
In this article, we will be looking at how to pick a good artichoke. We will also be looking at how to trim them properly and prepare them. So continue reading to gain some knowledge on how to choose artichokes and more.
About Artichoke Plants
Artichoke is an herbaceous perennial plant. They come from members of Asteraceae family and this family also includes thistles, sunflowers, and dandelions. Most people often think of thistles as prickly weeds, but artichoke has shown that not all weeds are insignificant.
The majority of the commercial artichoke plant in the United States are grown in California and this is where the main artichoke harvest takes place. This is usually from March through June.
Artichokes may look intimidating and digging into those prickly packed leaves may even cause poked fingers. This may be really frustrating. However, if you don’t mind digging into those tightly packed leaves, you will be rewarded with a slightly tannic, extra nutty, and absolutely delicious outcome.
Tips On How To Choose An Artichoke
Here are some tips that will help you pick a good artichoke:
One obvious sign of a good artichoke is when they feel heavy in your hand. If you however don’t feel that heaviness or it feels very light, it may be that the artichoke has lost a lot of moisture. It may have also lost some water-soluble nutrients and even some flavor.
Another way to know how to pick a good artichoke is to scrutinize the shape. The thorny-packed leaves should be tight and hugging towards the center of the vegetable. Basically, the appearance should not be like a blooming succulent or flower.
Another point to note is that once the leaves are opening up from the center, then the artichoke has very likely been sitting out far too long or has become old.
Furthermore, the stem will look brown if was cut for just a few hours. However, the stem shouldn’t feel slimy or dry.
Types Of Artichoke Plants
Normally, there are two major types of artichoke and they are:
Globe artichoke: This type of artichoke is round, large, and globe-like. It is known as the originally improved artichoke and is sometimes referred to as French artichoke. They are about the size of a softball and pretty green. This artichoke variety tends to bud in the first year. They usually reach harvest early (as early; as 75 days).
Baby artichoke: the baby artichoke is about 2 to 3 inches long when they are fully matured.
Other Types Of Artichoke:
Violetta artichoke: this artichoke variety is a heavy producer of side buds. It is an heirloom variety from Italy. It is characterized by its fascinating purple bud known for its tenderness. This artichoke variety produces elongated (about 3 inches) and 5 inches wide artichoke. Violetta artichoke needs only about 3 foot spacing between plants because it is a smaller plant.
Bog heart artichoke: this artichoke variety is a painless one with no prickly leaves. These are basically new varieties and they can handle warm weather. They can even be grown as an annual from seed. They can attain a length of 5 and a half inches.
Jerusalem artichoke: this is also known as sunchoke, sunroot, or wild sunflower. They tend to grow about 5 feet to over 9 feet. The part which is edible is a tuber part that looks like ginger root and they are around 3 to 4 inches long.
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How To Properly Trim Artichoke
To properly trim an artichoke isn’t so complicated. You just have to understand the process. It requires putting in some extra work after you must have harvested it so it becomes edible.
Do the following to trim artichoke properly:
With a serrated knife, the top third layer of artichoke bud should be trimmed off.
Then take away the two outer layers of the leaves around the stem.
Next, make use of kitchen shears to trim the sharp tips off the remaining outer leaves.
Also, cut off the stem if you want the artichoke to sit flat. If not, just peel it off with a paring knife.
The peeled artichoke should be put in a bowl of lemon water. This is to maintain a fresh artichoke until you’re ready to stem.
Some parts of the artichoke aren’t ideal or pleasant to eat. These unpleasant sides include the stem, the hard outer leaves, and the choke itself. The main focus for preparing artichoke is centered around removing the bits.
The stem is quite wood. Therefore, cutting them off is the ideal thing to do. You can use your hands, paring knife, or a small-sized knife to remove the first or two outer layers of the leaves. But take note, this may be pretty daunting to peel as you dive into the layers.
Then cut off the upper inch of the artichoke. This way, any remaining pointy heads will be removed and you have an opening to remove the artichoke. Then with the help of a melon baller or a spoon, take away any fuzzy filaments around the artichoke.
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To store artichoke, put them in a loosely wrapped plastic in the fridge. If the artichoke is fresh, it can last up to a week. But it’s best you use them as soon as possible to enjoy their freshness.
What part of the artichoke do you eat?
The artichoke is actually the edible flower bud of the globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus). The plant grows in a large head with many small greenish-yellow flowers. Each flower has five petals and a long stalk. The buds are the part of the plant used for cooking.
Artichokes are members of the thistle family, which also includes sunflowers and chamomile.
How do you know if an artichoke is ripe?
It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves, and there are two simple ways to tell. The first is that it should be firm and feel heavy for its size, with a nice, bright green color. A fresh one can be picked at any time of year. The second way to tell if an artichoke is ripe is to cut it in half and look at the bottom.
If the leaves on the bottom are dry and papery, then it’s probably ready.
It's often hard to say. There is no single sign of ripeness. You can use your senses and look for the following signs: The leaves should be slightly brown (not green) The stems should be slightly brittle The center leaves should be closed, not open. The heart of the flower should be dark purple, not white or yellow. If you have access to a fresh market, then you can ask them.
I always buy artichokes at the farmers market when they are in season. I usually try to buy them when they are the most colorful. But they also seem to have a different level of ripeness, depending on where they are from.
They are not really easy to find fresh at a local market. Most of the artichokes that I buy are already cooked and they don’t last long in the fridge.
Basically, what does a healthy artichoke look like?
Well, it should have a bright green color, the leaves should be tightly closed, and the bottom of the stem should be firm and dark green. If you cut an artichoke in half, you'll see the pale yellow inner part of the artichoke that is not edible.
How do you store raw artichokes?
I store raw artichokes in a bag of ice (or in the fridge) in the crisper drawer for up to two days.
When you’re ready to use them, just trim off the stem and pull off the tough outer leaves. I’ve also found that they keep much longer if you cook them first and then store them as you would any other vegetable.
How To Pick A Good Artichoke: Conclusion
It’s really easy to know how to pick a good artichoke if you have the right knowledge. Simply look into the tips we gave on how to properly choose a good artichoke.