Fresh artichokes have a much more complex and interesting flavor than the canned variety. They take a lot of extra work, but it’s worth the effort at least a couple of times during peak season.
When are artichokes in season?
Artichokes have 2 peak seasons: March to June, and again from September to October. California artichokes are usually available all year, but better during their peak seasons.
How to pick
Signs of a fresh artichoke:
- Tight, compact leaves
- When squeezed, the leaves squeak a little
- It is heavy for its size, a sign it has a lot of moisture and hasn’t dried out
- Black spots on the leaves or stem end are ok: that’s a natural occurrence that starts when they come in contact with the air.
- Purple colored leaves are also ok
Signs of a bad artichoke:
- There’s an open hole in the center and the leaves are loose
- The tips of the leaves are split or shriveled, a sign it is dried out
- It feels light, another sign it has dried out
- It feels spongy when squeezed
How to store
Wrap each artichoke in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture (which can cause deterioration). Then store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They should last for about a week.
Cooked artichokes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
How to prep & cook artichokes
If you haven’t cooked one before (or eaten one whole), you might be wondering what on earth you’re supposed to do. Martha Stewart to the rescue!
Garden Betty demonstrates how to trim an artichoke to get to the heart (with plenty of helpful pictures). Serious Eats has a guide that walks through three different artichoke preparations based on the desired cooking method.
How to eat an artichoke
When presented with a whole artichoke for the first time, you might wonder, “how am I supposed to eat this?” Watch Ocean Mist’s 30-second video to demonstrate.
Other common questions:
No, but you still don’t want to eat it. It has a texture like chewing a feather, it tickles the back of your throat and can cause choking.
The purpose of cutting the tips off is to remove the thorn. Those thorns soften during cooking and a lot of home cooks don’t bother cutting them off when cooking for themselves, but will cut them for guests.
If prepping a lot of artichokes at once before cooking, they will turn brown where they were cut. This only affects their appearance and not their quality. You can place prepped artichokes in a bowl of lemon ice water until you are ready to use them.
Artichokes have a protective outer substance that tastes bitter. To remove it, wash it with a vegetable brush under running water. You will also want to wash your hands and cutting board after prepping artichokes to avoid transferring the bitterness to other ingredients.
Nutrition & benefits
- 1 artichoke has about 25% of your daily recommended fiber.
- It contains inulin, a specific type of fiber that benefits gut bacteria as a prebiotic. It has surged in popularity based on recent research, and continues to be studied.
- They are a top vegetable source for antioxidants (USDA report)
Each recipe below only uses ingredients that are in season at the same time as artichokes, or ingredients that have a year-round season.
Baked, stuffed artichokes – from Simply Recipes
This recipe serves a full artichoke, where you pull leaves off one at a time as described above.