Never Hurt Your Fingers While Peeling Artichoke Hearts Again

Do you ever look at a spiny, armored artichoke and wonder, "Who in the world thought they could try to eat this?" The delicious little veggies seem tailor-made to prevent you from digging in. They are actually flower buds picked before they bloom into a riot of purple fuzz, and their "leaves" are actually bracts, which are more like scales, topped with sharp curved thorns. The stem, too, contains small, sharp fibers.

Because artichokes are so good at self-protection, they can be downright dangerous to prepare if you don't know what you're doing. Even a veteran artichoke cook, can find themselves picking splinters out of their fingers after a little meal prep with these guys. So how do you protect yourself?

Alex Aïnouz, better known as French Guy Cooking, recently shared an easy prep method for artichokes on Jamie Oliver's Youtube channel. The trick, as he shares, is that you want to peel off the first couple layers of inedible outer leaves before chopping off the top third of the artichoke, to remove many of the prickly thorns. Once that is done, you should break the artichoke stem instead of cutting it, which will remove the small spikes within the stem so you don't get your skin caught on them.

Artichoke techniques

Breaking artichoke stems is a bit of a cooking hack, with most chefs opting for the tougher route of cutting the stem. But this method allows for an easy way of exposing the bottom of the artichoke, which must then be cut away to reveal the heart underneath. After the heart has been cleared, the only thing left to do is scoop out the fibrous insides, which contain baby petals of the artichoke flower, which are tough and wiry, like dental floss.

Aïnouz also suggests rubbing your artichoke down with half a lemon while you work, to prevent the artichoke from browning, and placing the artichoke heart in lemon water after it has been prepped. After that, the world is your artichoke. Take these bad boys for a spin in a cheese ravioli with lemon artichoke sauce, a vegetarian Greek side dish of braised artichokes and peas, or a sheet pan shrimp and veggies recipe.

Hesitant to throw away the stem? You can eat that, too, as long as you peel it first. Though the outer portions are bitter, its center will taste like the heart. Just cut it into small pieces and grill, bake, or braise the same way you would the heart.