Artichokes should be firm and brightly coloured, not droopy and brown at the edges. If you see the leaves have started to flower out, separate, or dry out, give them a pass.
Storage: Store artichokes in a bag in your refrigerator until ready to use. That said, try to use them quickly – within few days of purchase. The sooner the better.
Artichokes discolour quickly so should be rubbed with lemon juice as soon as they are prepared and then dropped into acidulated water (about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to half a litre of water).
Cut the stems (but do not discard), leaving about 2.5cm (1″) attached on the artichoke, unless the recipe specifies to trim it at the base.
Bend the hard outer leaves of the artichoke backwards and snap off at their base, until three-quarters or a little more have gone and the soft inner ones appear. Slice approximately 2.5cm (1″) off the conical top horizontally and discard it.
Then remove the hairy ‘choke’ and the purple thorny leaves surrounding it. A simple way to do this, is to slice the artichoke in half, exposing the inner lining of the heart, and, using a stainless steel spoon or a small knife, just scrape away the ‘choke’ and discard. Steam or boil the artichoke heart for about 25 -35 minutes.
Once you are confident and have tried this procedure several times, you can try the preparation process using the whole artichoke. See instructions below.
Perform the same cleaning task from the top collar of leaves. Pull out the purple, short, inner leaves first, then insert a small knife or spoon and scrape away the hairy ‘choke’, being careful not to scrape the heart, which is the real delicacy. Using a knife, trim the reserved stems of their outer hard, green skin, exposing the inner whitish flesh which is very tasty and can be eaten raw, added into salads or added in a casserole with the rest of the artichokes. Pare the hard green base of the leaves, exposing the smooth white surface inside.