I have Globe Artichokes in my veg patch, but mine are a late variety and so are not ready yet. Every year I say that I am going to put in a few plants of an earlier variety and every year I don’t get round to it. So as I am impatient to eat artichokes I will just have to go to the market and buy some.
Some of you out there are still quite fazed by this tasty and versatile vegetable, not helped by the styles of growing and preparing them being different in each country that grows them. I will take you through how to select, prepare and cook artichokes in the manner that is done here in Spain.
The part of the artichoke plant that is generally eaten is the flower bud. For these to be tender you want to select smallish tightly closed buds. If the buds are opening in the centre then the hairy choke has developed too much and does not make for pleasant eating. Another point to bear in mind is that the early season artichokes that are in the markets when the weather is still quite cold will be much more tender than the late season ones. As soon as the weather starts to really heat up then the artichokes will toughen to protect themselves against the heat.
When it comes to preparing the artichokes, you have to do it fast as any cut parts discolour quite quickly. You can put them into water acidulated with lemon juice, but if you are going to fry them as we are today, then you want them dry.
Firstly cut the stalk about a centimeter below the bud. Then start pulling of the tough outer petals from the bottom. You will know when you have pulled off enough and reached the tender part of the artichoke as the flesh of the petals changes colour to a much paler green as in the photo below.
Then you cut off the tips of the petals, again you will see where the colour changes from a darker green to a paler more yellow colour, this is the line where you cut. The artichokes can be either left whole or halved or quartered or sliced depending on your recipe.