This long prolonged lengthy spring weather has lengthened artichoke flower bud development, so we have a bumper crop in the Willamette Valley. Artichokes grow quite well in our neck of the woods, given the acidic soil. I currently have a ‘Green Globe’ in the back and two ‘Imperial Stars’ in the front, and they produce enough to keep us in the green. The picture above is, ironically, the ‘Imperial Star,’ which is more globe-like than ‘Green Globe.’
With a gift of more ‘Green Globes’ and some purple artichokes from my lovely neighbors, I had a dozen or so smallish artichokes to process this weekend. My first thought was to can them, but I couldn’t find a trustworthy recipe, so I opted to freeze the hearts. Some tips to consider:
- Slightly undercooking is better than overcooking. Oops.
- Absolutely essential to pick them young for hearts. The centers are tight and fuzzy choke-free. I found the ‘Green Globes’ were much nicer than the ‘Imperial Star’ for tight interiors.
- Do not attempt to cut a larger one in half, scoop out the choke, and think, oh, no one will notice! Ended up eating that one for lunch, since it wouldn’t freeze worth a cent.
- The flavor differences of the various artichokes seem to be minimal.
- Where they differ is in the shape of the bud, quickness to brown when cut, and meatiness, so variety does matter. My informal survey isn’t very reliable, admittedly, since I was working from plants in different areas with different fertilization, sun, etc.
- Trimming back the leaves is much easier to do when the thing is raw, believe it or not. The buds fall apart easily after being cooked (see #1).
- Although ferociously attractive to me, stuffed artichokes (I kept one of my mom’s 1970s vintage recipe cards with a photo for years) are just a distraction. Same with a mayonnaise dip. I’m straight-edge or butter. Either lemon or tarragon butter. If you poach the artichoke with tarragon and lemon, that’s good too.
- Just use twigs of tarragon instead of chopped herb. Nothing more unpleasant than thinking it’s just a piece of cooked tarragon, and it’s really an earwig nestled in its leafy grave.
- And along those lines, keep in mind beasties can and do burrow deep within an artichoke. Check all leaves before eating. This is easy to disregard when you’re in artichoke paradise, munching leaf after leaf. But you’ll thank me one day.