Artichokes are very popular vegetables in the kitchen and they are used for various recipes, so it is important to clean them in the right way; the outer leaves must be removed and the heart kept. However, there are differences depending on whether you want to cook artichokes whole, stuffed or in wedges.
Artichokes are very popular vegetables in the kitchen and they are used for various preparations, so it is important to clean them in the right way. You can find them at the vegetable market from November to May and there are in fact two varieties; the winter thorny artichoke, tending to dark green, and the non-thorny artichoke, tending to purple, which we can find in spring. The procedure for cleaning the artichokes is however the same; the external leaves, as we will see, must be eliminated and the heart kept. However, there are differences depending on whether you want to cook the artichoke whole, stuffed or in wedges. Also pay attention to their freshness when you go to buy them; the color must be uniform, the tips must be closed, the stem long and the consistency compact. But now let’s see how to clean artichokes.
Rub your hands with lemon juice to keep them from blackening in contact with the vegetable or use gloves. Eliminate the tip, cutting off a maximum of three centimeters. Remove the hardest leaves on the outside and then proceed with the innermost and soft ones. Cut the final part of the stem and, when you have reached the heart of the artichoke, remove the thorns and the fibrous outer layer. Then go to the inside of the artichoke and remove the fluff or "beard" with a knife or a peeler.
How to cut the outer leaves of artichokes.
How to cut the stem of artichokes.
Place the vegetable on a cutting board upside down, cut it along the entire bottom and cut it into wedges or julienne it. If you want to use whole artichokes, clean them by spreading only the leaves. Apply pressure with your hands and remove the beard with a spoon. In both cases, remember to immerse the artichokes in a container with cold water and lemon juice to prevent them from blackening.
If you want to make stuffed artichokes, the procedure will be a little different; remove the hardest leaves, the excess stem and the filaments. Remove the cap and dig. At this point, remove the central beard and, with the help of a small knife, round the base, eliminating the hard part that you will find on the bottom. You can now stuff your artichokes and proceed with the preparation.
As we have seen, immersing the cleaned artichokes in water and lemon is important to prevent them from turning black. However, it is also possible to use other methods, without the lemon. You can, for example, put the artichokes in sparkling water and parsley or in water and flour; for each liter of water 1 tablespoon and ½ of flour. Stir to avoid lumps and dip the artichokes as you cut them. Stir occasionally to prevent the flour from settling on the bottom.
To keep the artichokes from turning black in the air, you can also blanch the artichokes in a clear liquid prepared by dissolving 2 tablespoons of flour, the tip of a teaspoon of baking soda, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of butter in 1 liter of water. Filter everything, bring to a boil and blanch the artichokes for a few minutes.
Once cleaned, the artichokes must be placed in acidulated cold water and eaten in a short time. Even when cooked, it is not advisable to keep them for a long time, because they tend to develop a series of toxic substances. If you want, you can freeze the artichokes in special bags still raw and after having cleaned them and put them in acidulated water, both whole and cut into wedges. This way you can always have them ready for use.
You can store artichokes in the freezer even when cooked; simmer them in plenty of boiling water for about 10 minutes, drain and let them cool. Arrange them on a well-spaced tray and then freeze them. Then put them in a freezer bag so they don't stick to each other.
To store artichokes in the refrigerator, however, you must first cut the toughest leaves and stems and then put them in a plastic bag or container for no more than six days.
The cut of the artichokes will be decided on the basis of the recipe to be prepared; if you leave arrtichokes whole, you can prepare the Roman-style artichokes, a typical side dish of Roman cuisine, or you can make the artichokes alla giudia, a dish of Roman cuisine that derives from the Jewish tradition. If you cut the artichokes into thin wedges, then you can prepare delicious sautéed artichokes, artichokes in a pan, very simple and quick, or poached artichokes, stewed with water and broth and enriched with garlic, olives and capers. In any case, they are ideal side dishes to accompany meat dishes or fish dishes. The spring artichokes also lend themselves to being eaten raw; in this case, julienne them with a sharp knife and prepare a fresh artichoke salad, ideal as a delicious and appetizing side dish.