The Ingredient That Will Stop Your Artichokes From Browning

Few things are as rewarding — or high maintenance — as prepping an artichoke. Cooks need to thoroughly wash it, trim the spiky top, strip the tough outer leaves, peel the stem, and scoop out the choke. As annoying as this process can be, cooked artichokes reward the eater with a sublime flavor second to none, so we'll inevitably return to this spiky pleasure time and again. But even with all this hard work, we can produce brown, off-color artichokes that may taste nice but leave something to be desired in the looks department. What gives?

Like avocados or apples, once the surface of an artichoke is pierced with a knife, the enzymes within the skin will oxidize and turn brown. Luckily, sous chefs who know everything about perfect food prep are sharing some tips on how to keep your artichokes good and green. Their main solution lies in utilizing a bit of acid to help combat that spotty oxidization. After peeling and trimming the artichoke, chefs will submerge their veggies into an acidulated water bath — basically, a water bath that has an acidic pH thanks to the addition of a highly acidic ingredient like citric acid or vinegar.

Give artichokes a little help with an acidic bath

So how should you go about making your own green-guaranteed water bath? Start with a big enough bowl of water that you can submerge multiple artichokes in at once. From there, add in a teaspoon or two of citric acid, a powdered form of the chemical compound found in citrus fruit. Once it's stirred in, you'll add in your artichokes and let them soak for a minute or so, then proceed with your recipe as called for. 

Chefs like to use citric acid for the acidulated water bath, as it saves them from wasting lemons, which have numerous uses in the professional kitchen. However, your home kitchen may not place as high of a premium on lemons as a professional kitchen might. If you don't have citric acid on hand, you can easily make your own acidulated water bath by adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of white vinegar or 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the mix. Once you've mastered this for artichokes, consider using your acidulated water bath hack for other fruits and veggies that struggle with oxidation, like sliced apples and pears.