Artichokes 101: Steaming and Eating

Cooking / Eating In

In my previous artichoke post, I realized that I never got into the most basic way to prepare and eat an artichoke.  Based on several of your comments, it sounds like a basic primer would be of interest.  In this post, you’ll see how easy it is to steam an artichoke (and eat it!).  I won’t lie – it requires a little prep, but the end result is soooo worth it!

Let’s get started, shall we?

As you can see here, the supplies you’ll need are quite simple – a knife, scissors, and if you’re lucky, a Mickey Mouse butt cutting board.  If you don’t have one, a regular cutting board will do.

First, if there are any tough, small leaves near the base of the artichoke, you’ll want to remove those.  Don’t get too aggressive – just the real buggers!  After that, trim the thorny tips off the leaves like so:

Once the tips are all trimmed, cut off the top 3/4  to 1 inch of the artichoke using a sharp knife.  If it’s “squeaky” when you’re cutting it, that means you’ve got a good artichoke in your hands!  If it doesn’t squeak, well…I don’t know. (ha! Just kidding. Kinda)

Once the tops are cut off, your artichokes will look like the first photo – so pretty! 🙂

Rinse the cut and trimmed artichokes under cold water:

Now it’s time to steam them.  If you’ve got a steamer, or lots of kitchen storage where you could store a steamer, that’s great.  My kitchen is tiny, so I jury-rigged one out of a plate balanced on top of a ramekin.  Just call me MacGyver.

If you’ve got these things available, you’ll want to add in some lemon, garlic and a bay leaf to herb things up a bit. If you don’t, no worries – your artichokes will still be splendiferous.

Place the artichokes in your steaming device, cover, and bring to a boil:


Once you hear the water boiling rapidly, lower the flame down to a simmer.  You’ll want to steam these artichokes until a bottom leaf pulls off easily.  I’m working with baby artichokes, so it took me about 23 minutes.  For larger artichokes, it will take longer – just keep an eye on it.

Yum!  Your artichokes are done – now, on to eating them!

For this type of preparation, the yummy “meaty” parts are the fleshy base of each leaf, and the artichoke heart.  You can eat them plain, dipped in melted butter, mayo, or whatever your heart desires.  For this demonstration, I chose (duh) melted butter:

First, you will tackle the leaf bases.  Pull off a leaf:

You see that white part near the base? That’s where the good stuff is.  Dip the base into butter (or whatever dip you prefer. But really, butter. Try it.), place the leaf in your mouth butter side down, and use your bottom teeth to remove the fleshy meat. Savor. Place leaf to the side.  Move on to a new leaf.  Repeat. Mmmmm….

(By the way, I tried to take a picture demonstrating how to eat an artichoke, but 1 – I haven’t got the camera timer thing down 100% yet, and 2 – the pictures came out funny, like “hey, here’s me eating an artichoke! Close-up of my mouth!” Yeah, I know that’s what it is, but still. Anyway.  You know what I mean, right?)

Keep on pulling and dipping to your heart’s content until all the leaves are gone.  After a while, the artichoke will look like this:

Ah, no more leaves! Nakie artichoke.  But not to worry, the best is yet to come.  So, that hairy fibrous stuff in the middle is called the choke.  You don’t want to eat that.  So using a knife or spoon, dig all that stuff out to get to the artichoke heart underneath:

This is the meatiest of the meaty – the heart. Mmmm.  Cut this up into pieces, dip into butter, and enjoy!

I hope this tutorial was useful and removed some of the mystery in artichoke preparation.  You can see that it’s a bit involved, but you can make a few at once, and seriously? Once you try one, you’ll be hooked.  Good luck and have fun!

Have you steamed artichokes before? Any tips to offer?

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  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Great tutorial!! I tried making artichokes once, but I don’t think I cooked them long enough because they were pretty tough! I might have to give it another go!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I am always amazed by how much work goes into artichokes for how little food you actually get! I’m not an artichoke fan, but my husband absolutely loves them, and I’ve seen him eat them this way many times!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for this post! This is super helpful. I love the pattern of your dishes 🙂

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 9:42 am

    That looks so delicious and easy! I don’t know why I always thought it was so difficult to do this so I always just buy the marinated artichoke hearts. But I love fresh veggies so I’m going to have to try this out! Thanks!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Loooooove artichokes! I would do this all the time, ‘cept husband finds them disgusting. Sad face.

  • Reply
    Jessica T
    July 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this! First of all, I didn’t even know to cut off the thorny tips. I’m such a rookie! 😉

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Yum. Love the slow step by step. I use to steam them ages ago. They take soooo long. The good stuff always does, right?

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I totally heart artichokes, but laziness wins so I don’t prep it at home. Plus the hubby is all against veggies. Sigh…

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    This is really really helpful. I’ve always wanted to cook fresh artichokes but was intimidated!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Love artichokes are delicious!! gloria

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Okay, I’m going out tomorrow to hunt me down some artichokes!

    I use a delicious dip that never fails me (or artichokes, asparagus, potatoes– pretty much anything dipable):
    -Mayonnaise (about a cup)
    -Lemon juice (1/2 to a whole lemon, depending on how tart you like it)
    -Pinch of salt & pepper
    -1/2 tablespoon of crushed garlic in jar form


    • Reply
      July 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      Yummm, that sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    This is a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing it! It sounds pretty easy and yummy so I definitely want to try this sometime. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 15, 2011 at 11:39 am

    So much work! But I’ll give it a try, thanks for the tutorial!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2011 at 11:41 am

    i’ve tried the fresh artichoke thing once… but wasn’t that impressed. sticking to the jarred for now, but when i work up the nerve again i’ll be back 🙂

  • Reply
    July 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you! This is so helpful!

  • Reply
    Mrs. Puma
    July 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I love artichokes and this is a fantastic tutorial!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Great tutorial! My mom always made these for us while we were growing up, but I’ve never been able to do it just right. I always ask her to make them for me whenever she visits…maybe I’ll be able to return the favor following these instructions!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Very helpful, thanks! I love artichokes but somehow it always seems like too much effort. Will have to try again soon. There was actually an article about the ubiquitousness of artichokes in Italy sometime last week in the NY Times. It had a cool recipe for super-simple sauteed artichokes.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

    We tried making artichokes once but failed, this will come in handy next time!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    looks so yummy! artichokes are great.

  • Reply
    August 9, 2011 at 11:38 am

    We were at Whole Foods on Sunday and they had the most beautiful artichokes! Steve, however, wouldn’t let me buy them because “we didn’t know what to do with them.” I kindly let him know that Nosh recently had a great tutorial and that next time we were at Whole Foods, we were buying some! Can’t wait!! These look so yummy, and who can argue with butter?! 🙂

  • Reply
    Big Apple Nosh: NYC Food Blog | New York | Food | Restaurants | Recipes | Reviews | Fun Fact Friday
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