Artichokes are pretty intimidating looking and are one of those food that the Accidental Locavore figures someone had to be awfully hungry to eat the first one. Once you get past the thorny outside, the inner part, or heart is delicious! Artichokes come in two basic sizes, large, known as globe artichokes (which can get to be the size of a softball) and small. Sometimes in the United States you can find purple artichokes, both large and small but they are not as common as the green ones. Depending on where you buy them, the large ones may also have a long stem, which is also edible.
Buying artichokes: look for firm ones with no brown spots. Fresh artichokes will “squeak” when squeezed and they should feel firm in the hand. Make sure the stem is not shrunken or limp. Store them in the crisper drawer in the fridge for a few days.
When you’re preparing artichokes, you must have a bowl of acidulated water (water with the juice of a lemon squeezed into it) and/or a cut lemon to rub on any cut parts. Cut artichokes will turn black (they don’t taste bad, but they look awful, trust me) in a matter of seconds, so either rub the cut parts with the lemon or drop them in the acidulated water. If you have long stems, cut them off at the base, and peel them way down until all the fibrous part is gone, then prepare them with the artichokes.