Artichoke is an edible flower bud, just like broccoli for example. The base of the bud (called the ‘heart’) is where fine, ‘hairy’ fibres grow (in what is called the ‘choke’). The buds are picked before they can flower. If an artichoke is left to grow, the leaves open up and the hairy fibres inside develop into a splendid purple flower. It’s a pretty sight, but an artichoke in bloom is no longer edible. Artichoke is a delicious, slightly bitter and very healthy vegetable which is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine.

How to prepare

What should you pay attention to when cleaning and preparing an artichoke? 
If the long stalk is still attached, cut it off leaving approx. 10 cm. That piece of stalk can be eaten too if you peel it first. Cut off any brown leaf tips and remove the outer leaves altogether since they are usually a little tough. Rub lemon juice onto any exposed edges where the leaves have been cut or snapped off, otherwise the artichoke will turn brown.

Simmer the artichoke in a large pan of water for approx. 15 to 40 minutes (depending on the size of the artichoke). Try to remove one leaf – if it comes off easily, the artichoke is cooked. When eating the artichoke whole, pull off one leaf at a time and suck the soft flesh out of the base of the leaf. The innermost leaves and the hairy fibres in what is called the ‘choke’ should not be eaten, so remove these. The base is edible, however.

Preparation times
Boiling: 15-40 minutes (depending on size. The artichoke is cooked when the leaves can be removed easily). Grilling: 30 minutes (small artichokes).

Buyer's and storage guide

What should you pay attention to when buying an artichoke?
The season for fresh artichokes is from January to May (for artichokes from Spain). You can buy fresh artichokes in most supermarkets and you can often find them for sale via greengrocers or local markets too. The artichoke’s leaves should be tightly packed and it should look fresh. The leaves should be thick, fleshy and leathery.
How should you store an artichoke?
An artichoke will dry out rapidly, so it is wise to wrap it in a damp tea towel. That way, you can store an artichoke in the fridge for 4-7 days. It also keeps well in the freezer in a tightly sealed plastic bag or tub – but make sure to blanch it for approx. 7 minutes first! It can be stored at -18°C or below for up to 6 months.