The Globe Artichoke is a kind of thistle. The edible portion is the immature bud of the plant, which has fleshy petals which may be eaten. The heart of the artichoke is especially good, but the developing thistle flower inside the bulb should be avoided. Much of the plant is inedible, and very fiborous, so careful preparation is required.
When choosing artichokes, look for firm compact globes, with fresh, almost "squeaky" leaves. Artichokes may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, store in an airtight plastic bag, and don't wash or trim until required, as excess water can cause them to discolour prematurely.
To prepare the artichokes for cooking:
Fill a bowl with water and add the juice of a small lemon. Place the cut artichoke pieces into this water as you go to prevent them browning too much. Pull off any tough outer leaves (perhaps the bottom 1/3 of the outer leaves) and discard. Cut the stem off, and peel the outside green away, keeping just the inner white of the stem. Cut the artichoke in half, and check to see if the choke needs to be removed. (the choke is the developing thistle, which is tough and inedible. If it looks kind of hairy and fiborous, then scrape it out with a teaspoon, but often it is underdeveloped, so doesn't need to be removed. Cut the tough tips from the leaves, if they look like they are mostly green and don't have much white flesh on them.
Trimmed artichoke cut in half. If there was a tough choke to remove it would be here, as indicated.
Cut Stem of artichoke. Generally, you can use quite a lot of the stem. Just peel off the green part and keep the white center.
Once you have prepared the artichokes, they may be steamed for 20 minutes (or until they are soft all the way through, boiled or fried. Once they are steamed, it is nice to marinate them with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt, and then finish them in the oven. They are also great on a barbecue, or try our recipe for artichoke pasta....
Fresh Artichoke Pasta with baby Spinach.