For many years I was using only marinated or canned artichoke hearts because I had no idea how to cook artichokes properly. As I didn’t use them very often, the seldom store-bought convenience food then was a no brainer for me.
In the last couple of months, things have changed. This has mainly to do with the amazing results of my extensive research on fiber-rich vegetables.
Health benefits of artichokes
Did you know, that the number one on the list of the Top 30 high fiber vegetables are in fact artichokes with 5.4 grams per 100 grams? This was the moment when I decided to include this fascinating, eye-catching veggie more often into our clean eating.
But there is more what this flower resembling head can do for you…
- it supports liver function and the gallbladder and promotes the digestion of fats.
- this high fiber veggie lowers the cholesterol level.
- it relieves flatulence and reduces the feeling of fullness.
In consequence, I read a lot, practiced a bit and learned the best way to cook these highest fiber foods. As I can imagine that you might feel the same, I’ve come up with easy step by step instructions for you.
How to clean artichokes
Since the coloring agent “cynarin”, contained in these fibrous veggies colors the skin, I recommend wearing gloves. Now wash the vegetables with a cold stream of water and remove any dirt or sand.
Remove stalk and hay
As you cannot eat the stalk and the fibrous tissue (hay) inside it, you should remove it
If you manage to completely break off the sturdy stalk, then try to pull out the hay at the same time. It is easier to break it off over the edge of a table and turn it a little around its axis. If this doesn’t work, cut it off just behind the base of the flower and remove the hay after cooking.
Removing artichoke leaves
When cleaning the bud, first cut away the edges at the top of the artichoke and then the hard outer leaves with the help of kitchen scissors or a knife. Also, remove damaged leaves with black or brown spots and spines on the tips of the leaves before preparing the artichoke.
By the way…it is quite common to remove a large part of the artichoke. For a minimalist like me, this was a bitter realization…Anyway…
Tip: Sprinkle the cut edges immediately with lemon juice, otherwise they will change their color.
How to cook artichokes: Step-by-step instructions
My preferred method is to cook them in a large pot on the stove in boiling water. But you could also use a pressure cooker or instant pot for steaming fresh artichokes and speed up the process. Another method is to prepare them on the grill or bake them with some olive oil in the oven.
- Before cooking, wrap yarn around the flower head to prevent the leaves from opening during cooking (see image below).
- To cook the veggies in a pot you should better use stainless steel pots. Don’t use aluminum cookware as the veggies react with the material, turn dark and often taste metallic.
- The artichokes are cooked whole in salted water. Add some vinegar, lemon juice or white wine to the water to prevent the vegetables from turning brown.
- When cooking, the flower heads should also be completely covered by water to avoid coloring. Tip: Just cover the artichoke with a smaller lid or muesli bowl to keep it under water while cooking (see image below). Then cover the pot while cooking.
How long to cook artichokes?
The cooking time on the stove depends on the size of the heads. Small flower heads are cooked after 15 minutes, larger specimen has a cooking time of 30 to 45 minutes. If you use a pressure cooker or instant pot you can cook the larger ones within 10-15 minutes.
Just use the leaves to test whether it is cooked: if they are easy to pluck out, the artichoke is ready to eat. After cooking, place the fiber-rich vegetables on a kitchen towel to cool.
How to eat an artichoke
Pluck each leaf with your fingers and pull it through your teeth, sucking the inside out. I love to serve it as an appetizer just with 1-2 dips.
Once you have picked all the leaves, you will finally reach the heart.
It is covered with hay. If you have not already removed it together with the stem, scrape it off with a spoon.
Cut the base of the artichoke with a knife and fork and eat it. I admit it doesn’t look very seducing and yet it tastes extremely delicious.
How to buy
Although these fibrous vegetables are usually available all year round, you should buy them during the season. The main season is from June to October, this is when the healthy vegetables taste best.
For best freshness, the heads should feel tight and firm and be heavy in the hand. The stem is also a good indication of quality. It should not appear dried out.
The longer the stem, the more time the artichoke can be kept in the refrigerator. Brown or dry spots on the surface can also occur during the season. It is better not to buy affected plants.
How to store artichokes at home?
Ideally, you should buy them on the day you want to prepare the vegetables. If this is not possible, you can store the fresh groceries in the fridge for a few days. The best way to store the heads is to wrap them unwashed in a damp cloth and store them in the vegetable compartment of the fridge.
Alternatively, you can also wrap them in a plastic wrap. You should ideally eat the cooked delicacy within 24 hours if possible and no later than the third day after preparation.
Other recipes you might enjoy
Artichokes in jars or cans are great time savers but seldom clean, inexpensive and oil oil-free the same time. Hopefully, my step by step instructions on how to cook whole artichokes can motivate you in the future to cook them at home more often.