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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to Clean and Prepare Artichokes for Pickling and Stuffing

I absolutely adore artichokes. Growing up, we had them on special occasions with my family, and because of that, I have really positive associations with that vegetable. I love artichoke any way I can get it, baked, boiled, stuffed, marinated, in soups, salads, you name it...
I felt like I hit the jackpot when I got 30 lbs of artichoke for 25 cents a pound, but I will admit, I was just a little bit overwhelmed. Much as I love artichoke, the only way I'd ever made it before was boiled or baked, whole; when I'd had it other ways, I'd always started with frozen or canned. I didn't want to just boil or bake all my 30 lbs of artichoke whole, but didn't even begin to know where to start if I wanted to turn my whole artichokes into hearts or to be able to can them.

I did a lot of googling to try to figure that out, and I'll admit, even that wasn't so helpful, since most of the instructions were vague or called for baby artichokes, which I didn't have.

However, I managed to figure it out and turn my artichokes into artichoke hearts for stuffing, canned them, made them into soup, and it's a game changer. I feel worlds of options opening up for me in the kitchen now because of this.

To help explain how to clean and prepare artichokes for pickling and stuffing, I made a video of my sister Lizzy, demonstrating how to do this. If it looks hard, I literally showed Lizzy how to do this only one minute before making this video- it's easy to learn. As that was her first time doing so, note that the more often you do this, the more practice you get, the faster you can get it done.


Something I didn't mention in the video is that though most recipes call for baby artichokes, there's no issue using regular artichokes for this. Even past prime artichokes work fine for this, and the quality of pickles or hearts won't suffer at all.
In fact, I have an embarrassing confession to make.
I bought my artichokes on the 9th of May, and a few days later cooked up some of them... but the rest of them were in my fridge until the 26th of may, 16 days later... and they started off past prime- you can just imagine how some of them looked over two weeks later! Some were ok, but not looking so beautiful, as you can see in this picture... and some not shown looked down right nasty. But once I cleaned them, their hearts and inner leaves were identical to what you get when you clean and prepare a grade A, gorgeous artichoke. The biggest difference? Once you clean and prepare a grade A, or even past prime but not too past prime artichoke, you can take all the leaves and boil them up and eat them as you would regular artichokes, or scrape the leaves clean with a spoon and use that in an artichoke dip. However, if your leaves are too nasty, as some are, you can't do that with them, but everything else is exactly the same.

So how do you do it?

Here's Lizzy to show you how.



For those of you who can't watch the video, what you do is as follows:

Start off by pulling off the outer leaves from your artichoke. You'll see that it starts off really hard to do so, but as you make your way inwards, the leaves start snapping really easily, and change from a green to nearly white. At this point, you can stop if you'd like to leave some leaves on. The leaves are soft enough to eat when cooked. When I make marinated artichokes, I leave those leaves on, but when stuffing my hearts or using in soup, I remove them.

Once you take off the leaves, and leave whatever leaves behind that you want, you use a knife to trim those leaves very short. Take care that when you trim the leaves you cut any tips of the leaves, even ones that are bent inwards, since the tip of each leaf has a thorn. If you can't cut off the thorns of the innermost leaves, just make sure that you remove them when removing the choke.

Using a sharp knife, peel off any light/bring green that remains on the artichoke heart, so that you remove anything fibrous and are left with a yellowish/whitish heart. Cut off the stem too, but you don't need to cut off as much as shown in this video.

The next step is removing the choke. As members of the aster family, also known as the dandelion or sunflower family, artichokes have a large amount of fluff in the middle. (Imagine dandelion puffballs.) Artichokes are an unopened flower and that choke that you remove is what will eventually become the equivalent of the dandelion's fluff, and is very hairy and can make you choke if you attempt to eat it, hence the probably source for the name, choke.

To remove the choke, use a spoon and scoop it out. If you are going to be stuffing it, keep the heart whole and remove the choke, but if you'll be cooking up the heart into a soup or canning it, cut the heart in half before removing the choke, as it makes it easier.

Once prepared, soak your hearts in water with a little lemon juice to retain the color of the artichoke and stop it from blackening.

Continue with the rest of your artichokes.

Now that you've got your artichokes ready, here's how to stuff them, and coming soon- marinated artichokes.

Are you a fan of artichokes? What is your favorite way to eat them? Have you ever cleaned and prepared artichoke? If you've never done it before, now that you saw this video, do you think you'd give it a try?

2 comments:

  1. I LOVE artichokes. Thanks for the tutorial

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love it! We can get free artichokes that are definitely past prime but I've been hesitant because of their condition. Now you've given me courage to try using them. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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