Artichokes are actually the buds of a thistle plant that have not yet flowered. Outer tough, spiky leaves protect the “choke,” which in turn surrounds the tasty core, most often referred to as the heart.
California is the largest artichoke producer. Crops are hand-harvested and labor comprises more than half of the vegetable’s cost.
“Globe” and “green globe” are common, but other varieties may be grouped as French or Italian chokes. The Jerusalem artichoke is not related.
Baby artichokes are mature, only smaller. Most have not developed the fuzz that normally surrounds the heart. These are quite tender and usually need little or no trimming.
Artichoke hearts are available frozen, canned, and marinated.
A healthy artichoke will have tightly compacted leaves. The bud should be weighty and green with no dry leaf tips. Some spotting is acceptable.
Peak production months are March-May and October, but they are grown year-round.
Leave in the produce bag and refrigerate. Use within 4-5 days.
Cooked chokes can be frozen.
• Rinse thoroughly and shake vigorously upside down. Tap the root with the palm of your hand. This should dislodge any unwanted pests or dirt. On occasion, however, you may find debris trapped near the heart of the choke.
• Serve hot or cold as an accompaniment to a main course or mixed with other vegetables.
• Always rinse brined hearts before using. Those packaged in oil can be drained to eliminate some of the fat content.
• When a steamed or boiled artichoke is ready to eat, the base will become soft enough to prick with a fork.
• A small artichoke weighs about 3 ounces.
Jerusalem artichokes or hearts of palm.
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