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How to open & trim a fresh artichoke for cooking — it's worth it, trust us

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Yes, it's weird-looking outside, but inside is a sweet, tender heart

Fresh artichokes look intimidating, like vegetable porcupines or armadillos. But don't let that spiny exterior scare you away from trimming your way to the sweet center. Almost the entire artichoke is edible — true story. You can use your teeth to scrape meat off the outer leaves of a well-steamed artichoke.

First, know how to pick them. Fresh artichokes should feel heavy and firm for their size. Gently pull back the outer leaves, and look inside. They should be a healthy green color, and the center leaves should be fairly compact. If the leaves look dry or discolored, they're probably not very fresh.

Your recipe may call for different sizes, so make sure you get the one you need. The folks at Ocean Mist Farms have a simple way to judge what size you need. Jumbo = softball, large = baseball, medium = tennis ball and baby artichokes = golf ball.

You can trim an artichoke of any size using this method.

Yes, it's weird-looking outside, but inside is a sweet, tender heart
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Artichoke tips:

  • The artichoke heart is considered the best part, but don't be afraid to try to eat the other parts. They're considered a delicacy by artichoke lovers. Sure, they're a bigger pain to eat, but they're worth it.
  • If you're peeling an artichoke, you can put together a solution of water and lemon juice and submerge the pieces you're done with in it. You can also brush the artichoke in lemon juice to prevent premature browning.
  • Don't pre-prep artichokes. As with many veggies and fruits, it's better if they stay intact to preserve freshness. The lemon juice helps only temporarily.
  • If your recipe calls for you to remove all the leaves, use a paring knife to peel it apple-style until you are as far down as the choke (you see purple) and all the green is gone. Then remove the choke per the instructions in No. 4 to remove the choke itself. Once you're to the white layer, you've preserved the heart of the artichoke.

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