Monday, 2 February 2015

How to clean and freeze raw artichokes

Artichokes are one of the cheapest seasonal vegetables in Morocco. When I left Morocco, little did I know that I will get to miss them and cherish them. They happen to be very pricey in all the countries I lived in.

As a Moroccan, to satisfy my craving in artichokes, I need at least 4 firm units. I need to peel them myself, nibble on a couple before I get to boil the rest..Compute the same need to cover the need of a large family...Yes, we're in love with this healthy vegetable.

We like to eat artichokes raw, we serve them in salads (mostly boiled or steamed), in tagines cooked on their own or mixed with other seasonal vegetables.

If you have tried fresh artichokes, you won't buy them tinned anymore. I just can't relate the two products.

That much of artichokes for one family meal.
The good thing about heads of artichokes (the most edible part) is that you can parboil them and freeze them. That's what we do, to keep the bounty for the rest of the year.

Wild artichokes. Nowadays, we buy them already peeled and cleaned to my mother's confort.

We have two types of artichokes in Morocco. The common one is globe artichoke while the wild artichoke (beldi) has lost its fame (who would want to hurt herself handling it).

So here is how to tackle a common raw globe artichoke, heads on, no fear

What you need

- Fresh artichokes
- One lemon cut into two
- A bowl of cold lemony water.
- A good chef's knife. 



How to clean artichokes (raw)



Cut the long stalk from the base. We peel that too and only keep its heart. Peel the first leaves until the white artichoke heart shows. Rub it with lemon.


Now start peeling off the outer leaves, one after the other for the 2/3ds until you get to the softer ones. We tend to nibble on the white bits on the top of these leaves. 



Now you should be left with this: soft leaves, artichokes hearts and the "beard" inside.


Cut through the leaves just 1/2 cm from the artichoke heart (the most edible part). Go all around to split this part from the leaves. 



With the tip of the chef's knife, carve the heart of the artichoke to remove the "beard". Rub the heart with lemon and place it in lemony water. You could do the same for your finger as some of them must have darken by now.


By now, you should have peeled off and trimmed the hearts of artichokes and there is no beard or green bit left on top but it's ok to leave a few millimetres of the soft artichoke leaves to keep a sort of crown. This is actually useful when we stuff the hearts at a later stage.

Leave the artichoke hearts in the lemony water for 20 minutes and then use them.

How to prepare the artichokes for the freezer


Cover the artichokes with water and lemon (about 1/2 lemon for 1 litre of water). Parboil until they're al dente. 

Drain and set aside to cool. 

Store in plastic bags. 

Use straight from the freezer to the stew or steam and cool again for salads.



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