Tis the season when the price of artichokes is more reasonable. John Anselmo of Farmer Jones Indoor Market in Maple Heights estimates artichokes may be priced as high as $50 per case when out of season. December/January (in season months) one can pay as low as $25 to $30 a case.
Artichokes are raised in different sections of California enabling growers to ship a steady flow of artichokes during varying times of the year.
“When buying artichokes, choose those where the petals are mostly closed,” said Anselmo. “These are fresher and more tender,” he added. “And don’t be turned off because the artichokes seem to have been frost-burned. Get past the look, they are tender and tastier.”
How do you properly cook the carciofo? Begin by cutting off the tip of the petals. Then, slice about an inch off the head of the artichoke. Next, remove the smaller petals at the base. Cut the stem leaving a stub of about an inch. Some consumers keep the stem and eat them as they have a different taste. The cooking process involves rinsing the artichokes in cold water. Prepare a large pot with a base of two to three inches of water. Add a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon and, for flavor, a bay leaf. Place the artichokes on top of a steaming basket, cover the pot and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer. Cook 30-45 minutes or until the outer leaves can be removed easily. Pull off the petals one at a time and let your teeth do the skimming of the leaves’ pulp. Keep peeling and skimming until reaching the fuzzy stuff or the “beard.”