Cooking artichokes is often an overwhelming thought for those who are not experienced with them, but it really should not be this way. Artichokes are a delicious vegetable that offer a great many health benefits, including being high in antioxidants, aiding in digestion, and offering a great source of high fiber. There is some support for artichokes as cancer-fighters, and even hangover-treatments, too (due to their positive effects on liver function).
All of these are great reasons for including artichokes in your daily diet, but that does you little good if you know nothing about cooking artichokes.. so here are some top tips for the artichoke newbie.
How To Prepare Artichokes For Cooking
First things first. As with everything, before cooking you’ll need to know the basics of how to prepare and artichoke.
- First, cut off the artichoke stem, leaving only about ¼ inch (about 5 millimeters). Try to cut this flat so the artichoke can stand during cooking. Some people discard the stem, but if you peel the fibrous skin you can actually cook this and eat it as well (it tastes similar to the coveted artichoke heart).
- Lay the artichoke on its side and cut the top off flat.
- Pull the top, center leaf off to expose the “choke” and remove the choke from the inside top, above the heart. You can use a spoon, melon baller, or paring knife to scoop or cut this away (it is a fuzzy and somewhat stringy, different texture from the rest of the vegetable and heart).
- If desired, snip the sharp, thorny ends from the leaves of the artichoke. This makes handling and eating the artichoke much easier. You may also choose to snap or cut off the toughest, largest bottom leaves – it’s a matter of preference.
Artichokes do oxidize and turn brown in the air (like an apple) which is harmless, but unattractive so if you are not ready to cook right off place the artichoke in a bowl of water and lemon juice or vinegar.
Options for Cooking Artichokes
You are now ready for cooking the artichokes, and you have a couple of options. For cooking artichokes you can
Boiling is a very popular and traditional method for cooking artichokes. Place the prepared artichoke upright in a large pan, sitting on its cut stem base. Cover with water (you can add salt, garlic, or lemon if you like for flavor) and boil for about 45 minutes.
When cooking vegetables, steaming is a great option and is popular for cooking artichokes, too. It is the best way to preserve the most nutrition. Simply steam the artichoke in a steamer or steamer basket (sitting on its stem as with boiling) for about 45 minutes.
Microwaving is really not the most preferred method for cooking artichokes, but it is a time-saver and a good alternative if you are pressed for time. It is best to use a microwave steamer and be sure to use water in it. Microwave the artichoke on high for about five minutes.
Artichokes are done cooking when the leaves fall slightly and a fork can be inserted easily into the center. After cooking artichokes and checking they are done, remove and stand upside-down on a paper towel to drain off any excess water from between the leaves.