The option used most frequently for preserving artichokes is freezing artichokes , which is the most popular and most effective way of preserving artichokes. The delicate flavor is not lost when frozen, but, the artichokes should be used within 8 months or so to assure the best flavor. Preparing the bulbs takes a little time to accomplish before they can be frozen, but, I think you will find that it is worth the effort!
Artichokes are natives of the Mediterranean region and are relatives of thistles. The flower bud is the portion of the plant that is harvested and eaten either steamed, boiled, or pickled. The Artichoke plant grows 3 to 4 feet high and is relatively hardy in most temperate regions of the world. It was introduced into California in the 1920's and has become a favorite of gourmet chefs ever since.
With a little care, you can nurse your artichoke plants through the winter by placing a heavy mulch over the plant stub after the Fall harvest. Green Glove variety seems to be the most cold tolerant, lasting through the winter in altitudes above 1,000 feet.
Artichoke hearts are used in salads, casseroles, steamed and eaten by pulling the leaves from the artichoke, dipping them in drawn lemon butter and eating the fleshy part of the leaves where the leaves meet the plant stalk. The center undeveloped flower bud, called the "choke" can be sliced or quartered and used in a variety of dishes from sautes with tomatoes, marinated with other vegetables, stuffed with bread crumbs and other vegetables, and quartered and pickled.
To prepare the hearts of the Artichoke, the outer leaves are removed down to the center of the bud. The fine "hairs" in the center of the bud are the thistles that will form the center of the flower if the plant were left to bloom, known as the "choke". This center will need to be removed and discarded. What you have left is the heart of the artichoke.
Place the trimmed artichokes in slightly salted water to boil, along with the halves of one lemon, and boil until the bottoms of the artichokes are tender when pierced with a fork, usually 20 to 30 minutes.
Rub the artichokes with the lemon halves to help keep the leaves from darkening, and place in a steamer basket with the leaves facing up. To impart more flavor, you can add a few slices of lemon or freshly squeezed lemon juice to the water in the steamer during cooking. The artichokes will be done when the bottom is tender when pierced with a fork, which is usually 25 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes.
Scoop the artichokes out of the water or steamer basket and place in a colander to drain upside down. Place the artichokes onto the serving plate, leaves facing up, to serve.
Remove the leaves one at a time, dip in drawn (or melted) butter and scrape the fleshy part of the bottom of the leaves between your teeth. After you have eaten all of the leaves, remove the hairy portion of the artichoke center, called the Choke, and discard. The heart of the artichoke is the best part to eat, slicing it into quarters and dipping, if desired into the butter, or olive oil.
FULLY EDIBLE ARTICHOKE:
The larger the artichoke, the more you will need to prepare them for being completely edible.