Do I eat the thorns or the fur?
September 22, 2007 9:20 PM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my artichokes (or is it me)? First time I've bought artichokes. I cut them open according to the instructions on, and instead of tasty yellow artichoke hearts, I have thorny stuff and furry stuff. I tried with 2 other artichokes and they're the same.
posted by lpctstr; to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
That's how they come. The artichoke hearts you're used to are usually marinated baby artichokes.

Once you boil them, it's best to cut out the thorns. They're actually flowers from the thistle family, after all.

Enjoy! Melt some butter with some rosemary and enjoy the meaty portions of the petals as well!
posted by OrangeDrink at 9:24 PM on September 22, 2007

Googling "how to eat artichokes" brings up some nice links, complete with pictures. This one and this one look accurate to me at first glance. They are kind of weird things to eat, aren't they?
posted by Forktine at 9:27 PM on September 22, 2007

Steam them until soft, eat the leaves by ripping them off the plant, dipping them in mayo or vinaigrette and running the bottoms of each leaf through your teeth, then cut out the choke and eat the heart with more mayo or vinaigrette.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:28 PM on September 22, 2007

It's you.

That is how artichokes are. You need to prepare them correctly by cooking them and then removing the choke. You can boil them or grill them (and I'm sure there are other ways to cook them, too).

When I was a kid, boiled them then pulled the leaves off, dipping them in melted butter or hollandaise sauce and scraping off the meat from the end of the leaf (don't eat the leaf!), and then, when it was down to just the heart, stem, and choke, scraped the choke out with a spoon and ate the heart. Delicious!

They're also delicious if you put coarse sea salt between the leaves and then cook them on a charcoal grill or, better yet, a grill over a wood fire. Mmm!
posted by The World Famous at 9:30 PM on September 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

dipping them in mayo or vinaigrette melted butter and running the bottoms of each leaf through your teeth
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:35 PM on September 22, 2007

You have to pull off the thorny bits - generally you can remove them in a couple chunks. Then you take a spoon and gently scrape off the furry stuff. You can also pull off the thorny bits in chunks, too. Sometimes this is easier than dealing with a spoon. Did you skip that part of the instructions or somehow get it wrong?

If you tell us the steps you used regarding the fuzzy/thorny sections, maybe we can figure out what went wrong.

My own method: I eat all the outer leaves and then work into the thorns/fuzz till that's all that is left. Just like the directions under how to eat an artichoke. The directions under how to cook an artichoke seem a bit complex and seem to imply that you should remove the fuzz/thorns before all the rest. I suppose that is best if you want to stuff the choke or be fancy with it. But if you're going for scraping the leaves and then eating the choke, go with the "how to eat" directions for thorn/fuzz removal tips.

Take my advice with a grain of salt, I am not a gourmet artichoke maker, I am uncivilized and steam mine in the microwave.

For more advice, check out this site: I found the site when I was trying to work out the logistics of cooking long stemmed artichokes.
posted by birdlady at 9:36 PM on September 22, 2007

Okay, thanks for all the quick responses. I guess I was just confused it didn't look like the canned stuff I usually buy in the store. Thanks OrangeDrink for pointing out those are baby artichoke hearts.
posted by lpctstr; at 9:43 PM on September 22, 2007

I strongly recommend eating (steamed) artichokes with lemon juice and melted butter.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:51 PM on September 22, 2007

When you cook artichokes, you always want to cook a couple of extras, in case you find a worm in one of them. It can happen.
In case of emergency, you just toss the buggy one and replace it at a dinner party.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 11:57 PM on September 22, 2007

Hmm, I usually eat the choke, but I boil them for quite a while first. Normally it is a bit furry but not unpleasant.
posted by tomble at 1:55 AM on September 23, 2007

Old family recipe for Stuffed Artichokes: Cut the tips off of the flower using scissors or a sharp knife. Whack the open end of the artichoke on the counter or table to open up the flower. Spread the leaves a bit and stuff with a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs, olive oil, finely shredded romano or parmesan cheese. Arrange in a pot so they stand upright. Steam until tender. peel and eat until the leaves are so small that you can separate them from the heart. then do so and eat the heart. YUMMY.
posted by Gungho at 5:47 AM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

Gungho - you missed the crucial part about taking out the choke and *then* stuffing it. I was always taught that eating the choke, as tomble says, can actually be dangerous.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:57 AM on September 23, 2007

Another Sicilian family recipe: use scissors to cut the tips off of the flower, boil or steam the articokes for about an hour, stuff each leaf with a "meatloaf type" mixture (about a teaspoon of mixture stuffed down in down in each leaf), bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until the meat is done, eat by pulling out each leaf and scraping the meat and the fleshy part of the leaf off with your teeth. Delish!!! We fight over these at our house. The meatloaf mixture is basically hamburger meat, breadcrumbs, egg, sesame seeds, italian seasonings, etc. It comes out a little differently each time. After you've eaten all the meat and picked off all of the leaves, you can cut off the prickly part, and cut up the heart and eat that too.
posted by rcavett at 10:53 AM on September 23, 2007

Ask among your friends for somebody who knows how to eat an artichoke, and ask them to show you.
posted by theora55 at 3:23 PM on September 23, 2007

Just so you know, you aren't the only person to ever have this problem. About 3 years ago, I bought some artichokes, intending to use them for their hearts in a recipe. Taking the heart bit literally, I just kept removing outer layers, waiting till I found the hearts. I ended up getting through the artichokes before I found the hearts.

I get my artichoke hearts from a jar now.
posted by !Jim at 11:55 PM on September 23, 2007

Also, I should mention that during this process, I cut my hands repeatedly.

now you know I'm an idiot.
posted by !Jim at 11:56 PM on September 23, 2007

Some tips for 'chokes: steaming is nice, pressure cooked is better (waaaay better). It captures all the flavor in ways nothing else can. The size of the heart is related to the width of the stem. Select artichokes with nice fat stems for maximum deliciousness. The core of the stem itself is also edible though not quite as tasty and will require more cooking.

I just chop of the top and stem then pressure cook for 7 minutes. Let it rest till the pressure drops. The pressure cooked ones have more than enough flavor that butter or anything else is unnecessary.
posted by chairface at 6:09 PM on September 24, 2007

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