Learn how to deal with these prickly thistle flowers and have absolutely no fear of them. They’re worth it. We promise.
Preparing a Fresh Artichoke
#1. First, get a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of two lemons into 2 to 3 quarts of cold water, then throw in the lemon rinds. During the preparation process, keep the prepped artichokes in the this water until you’re ready to cook or stuff them; it prevents them from turning brown. Keep one half of a lemon out of the water for you to use during the process.
#2. Using a large knife, cut off the bottom of the stem, about 1 inch, discard and rub the bottom of the stem with the lemon half.
#3. Next, cut off the top 1 1/2 inches of the artichoke. Discard the tops. Immediately plunge the cut artichoke into the lemon water for a moment to prevent browning.
#4. Pull off and discard the outermost leaves. Pull them downwards towards the stem. Continue upwards, snapping off about 25 percent of the outer leaves, or until you reach the leaves that have a lighter brighter green color and appear more tender. Keep the last couple leaves you pulled off. Thrown them into the water—they help make great juice when making stuffed artichokes.
#5. With a small paring knife, trim the dark remains of the leaves from around the stem; also peel the outer skin on the stem to reveal a pale green stem. The stem is a very tasty part of the artichoke; it is actually part of the heart.
#6. Cut the entire trimmed artichoke bottom off. Keep the bottom and stem in the lemon water. The trimmed stem and bottom can be used whole or sliced and placed in the baking dish along with the stuffed artichokes to add to the flavor of the cooking juices. The artichoke should have a flat sturdy base now.
#7. You will see shiny purple-tipped leaves in the center of the artichoke. These are covering the choke and may have thin thorns on their tips. Spoon them out all at once, pulling outward with a twisting motion.
#8. Once the inner leaves of the artichoke are removed, you’ll see the fuzzy, silky choke. Scrape it out with a melon baller or a serrated grapefruit spoon. Be sure to remove all the hairy bits, but don’t scrape away the edible flesh of the heart!
Place the artichoke choke back in the lemon water while you finish preparing the remaining artichokes.
The prepped artichoke is ready to stuff.