Capture the delicate flavour of a Mediterranean summer by preserving your own artichokes. Artichokes where known in Italy by the 15th century and the Italians perfected growing, harvesting, cooking, eating and preserving them. As a botanical and culinary curiosity, it is the unformed flower head that is eaten: not the leaves or root. Preserving artichokes is especially common in Southern Italy where the spring and summer harvest is preserved in oil and used in pasta, pizza or anti pasta platters during the winter months. Preserve your next abundant artichoke harvest with this Italian inspired recipe and discover the joy of mastering the art of preparing artichoke hearts and sharing your home preserve with friends and family.
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
2 kg small globe artichokes
I litre water
500 mls white wine vinegar (plus additional vinegar for the acidulated water)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon whole peppercorns
6 garlic cloves
Some are daunted by the preparation process to unearth the artichoke heart and removing the choke hair that surrounds it. If left to flower the choke develops into a magnificent flower head full with iridescent purple filaments. The technique is simple and easily learnt. I suggest preparing the vinegar solution in advance and then preparing the artichoke hearts and this preserve is basically a three step process.Make acidulated water
- Mix 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to 500 mls water.
- Place in a stainless steel bowl.
- As each artichoke heart is prepared, drop it immediately into the acidulated water to prevent discolouration.
- Place vinegar, water, bay leaves, garlic cloves and salt in a medium large saucepan.
- Working quickly as possible, prepare one artichoke at a time and once it has been prepared, place it immediately in the acidulated water.
- Remove the tough outside leaves from the artichoke until the pale green inner leaves are exposed and feel tender to touch.
- Remove the stem and the end of the leaves, exposing the soft heart. The hairy choke forms an outside ring around the heart.
- To remove the choke, insert a sharp ended teaspoon into the centre of the trimmed artichoke. Using a medium pressure, push the teaspoon against the choke and using a circular motion, scrape the spoon around the choke to remove the furry hairs. Repeat the motion again if necessary to remove all the choke hairs. If you find this technique difficult, cut the artichoke in half and remove the choke with teaspoon.
- Trim the base and place prepared artichoke heart immediately into the vinegar solution.
- Prepare the acidulated water (as outlined above).
- Prepare artichoke hearts as outlined above. Place each heart as it is prepared immediately into the acidulated to prevent discolouration. When all the hearts have been prepared, bring the vinegar solution to the boil.
- Place all the artichokes hearts in the solution and simmer for 2 – 5 minutes until the hearts are just cooked.
- To test if cooked. A small vegetable knife should easily penetrate the thickest part of the artichoke. Depending upon the size, some artichokes will cook more quickly than others.
- Test each heart, remove individually when cooked and allow to drain and cool.
- Place cooled prepared hearts into a sealable sterilised jar.
- Cover with good olive oil and leave for approximately 2 months before eating.
- Store in a cool, low light area or pantry.
- For additional flavour add a few peppercorns, cloves, bays leaves, oregano, red chilli cut into small pieces or cooked garlic in the jar with the artichokes and oil. If you add chilli seeds, it will be hotter. Do not store with uncooked garlic in the oil as this can cause botulism.
- Once globe artichokes are cut, they begin to discolour immediately. So it is important to work quickly and drop into acidulated water, once the hearts have been prepared. Some Italian recipes use a handful or plain flour in water as an alternative to the acidulated water, to prevent discolouration.
- These preserved artichokes will last for up to 2 years if unopened. After opening, refrigerate and use within 6 months.