Artichokes are great vegetables to work with. It is actually a flower, but prepared and enjoyed like a vegetable. If you have not tasted it, you would find it creamy. Some say it tastes like broccoli. But the artichoke heart, though, is a taste of heaven. It is buttery and earthy, and you can enjoy it fried or as part of a salad. In the US, especially in California, artichokes can be available the whole year. Officially though, it’s in season from March to May. Fresh artichokes are greatly favored over the canned ones, which can be rather mushy and just plain yucky. The best way to go is fresh, but at best, it can last up to a week in the refrigerator. If you want to enjoy fresh artichoke anytime, after getting it fresh from the grocer, vacuum-seal it so you can preserve the freshness and its quality. Vacuum-sealing it lengthens the shelf life to 8 months.
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- Buy the ones that are heavy and solid. If they are lighter in weight, they are most likely older;
- Choose the artichoke with leaves that are vibrantly green, thick and closed tightly;
- Rub the leaves with your fingers and watch out for the squeaky sound;
- Don’t get the ones with opened or dry leaves;
- Smaller or baby artichokes are sweeter and more tender;
- Adult artichokes have bigger hearts, which is the most delicious part.
How to store artichokes
Before you store it, get it cleaned following these steps:
- Trim off the leaf tips, then cut into four, lengthwise;
- Remove stems and choke that is found in the middle;
- Place the cleaned artichokes in a pot of water that has been mixed with lemon (1 pc = 2 quarts water);
- Let it soak for a while;
- Remove the artichokes and place on top of paper towel to drip;
- When dry, place inside vacuum-sealer bag, leaving 1 inch from the top;
- Vacuum-seal it. Most vacuum-sealers are automatic and will stop once operation is complete;
- Label with its name and date sealed, then freeze.
Now that you are guaranteed to have fresh artichokes even in the middle of the night, here are a few ideas on how you can prepare artichoke hearts:
- It makes great pizza topping, like any other vegetables;
- Put on a plate with olives, cheese and crackers for a hearty appetizer;
- Eat it raw with a delicious dip – mayonnaise or melted butter;
- Roast it, and make vegetable skewers with some potatoes;
- Fry it and make a great snack item;
- Use at toppings for baked chicken, along with cinnamon;
- Let it be the surprise ingredient in your mac and cheese;
- Try it with your pasta and olive oil;
- Make it into a soup that can be served either hot or cold;
- Stew it in white wine to make Barigoule.