QUESTION: How do you preserve fresh artichokes? I can’t cook all the artichokes I’m harvesting from my garden. What can I do with them? -Kim R.
ANSWER: Artichokes don’t last very long at all in the refrigerator—just three to five days—so if your garden has produced more artichokes than your family can eat, you may be looking for ways to preserve them so they don’t go to waste. After all, you can’t just leave them on the plant until you’re ready to eat them, or you risk your tasty vegetables becoming beautiful flowers instead of remaining tasty and edible. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to preserve your artichokes so you can use them when it’s convenient for you.
Freezing your surplus artichokes is the most common way to preserve them. However, before you can freeze your artichokes, first you must blanch them to stop the action of the enzymes they contain that will turn the flesh bitter in the freezer if the artichokes are frozen raw. First, wash your artichokes thoroughly. Because they’ve been out in the garden, the nooks and crannies in their bracts could be holding dirt, debris, or even insects, so make sure to really get them clean.
Slice off the stem, making the base of the bulb straight and level.Then use clean kitchen shears to trim the crown off of the artichokes you want to freeze, removing an inch or so from the thorny point at the top. Then clip off a third of an inch from each individual leaf around the outside of the artichoke. Stop here to give your artichokes another rinse for good measure. With some of their foliage and bulk removed, the water will be better able to flow through the bracts. After the artichoke has dried somewhat, rub any exposed surfaces with a cut lemon to stop the oxidation process that leads to discoloration.
Next, bring a pot of water with lemon juice added to it for flavor to a rolling boil, and add the artichokes you’re going to freeze to the pot. The objective is to cook them partially, not completely, so shoot for al dente—about 20 minutes will work for an average size of artichoke. Keep the water just under boiling temperature while the artichokes are in the pot, and avoid throwing in too many at a time and overcrowding the pot. If the artichokes are too crammed in, none of them will get cooked well enough.
After the artichokes are partially cooked, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon, and move them to a colander or drying rack to drain upside down. Once they’re dry, you can place them on a tray (still pointed upside down) and put them in the coldest part of the freezer to flash freeze. When the artichokes are nicely frozen, transfer them to a more permanent location, such as freezer safe zipper bags or plastic food storage containers.
When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen artichokes, remove them from the freezer and let them thaw. Then wrap them tightly in aluminum foil, and place the foil packages on a steaming rack above a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot, and steam the artichokes until they’re cooked the rest of the way through (25 minutes on average).
Of course, freezing your artichokes isn’t the only way to preserve them. The options below offer a spectrum of ways to put away your surplus artichokes so you can enjoy them at your leisure. Some of these methods only buy you a few more days to consume the artichokes you’ve preserved, while other allow the artichokes to last much longer—up to 10 years.
- Artichokes Packed in Oil with Lemon from Martha Stewart: Store artichokes you’ve packed in oil with lemon in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
- Artichokes Preserved in Oil from Bormioli Rocco: Artichokes preserved in oil will last unopened for one year, but once the jar is opened, they should be refrigerated and eaten within two or three days.
- Artichoke Spread from Edible Vermont: Following this recipes results in an artichoke spread that will stay fresh for five days in the refrigerator.
- Home-Canned Artichoke Hearts from The Washington Post: When you can artichokes from the garden using this recipe, they’ll last for a year on the shelf. Once the jars have been opened, they should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within a month.
- How to Dry Artichokes from Our Everyday Life: Stored in an airtight container, dried artichokes will keep for up to 10 years.
- Marinated Artichoke Hearts from Serious Eats: Marinated artichoke hearts prepared this way stay fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator.
- Pickled Artichokes from Honest Food: When you this pickling technique, your artichokes will be good for a year.
- Preserve Artichokes in Salt and Vinegar from Italian Notes: Using this technique to preserve artichokes in salt and vinegar means you have at minimum three more months to consume them.
- Preserved Baby Artichokes with Juniper, Bay, and Rosemary from Good Food: When you follow this recipe, the preserved artichokes can be consumed up to several months later.
- Quick Pickled Artichokes from The Adventure Bite: Artichokes that you pickle using this method will last for a few days in the refrigerator.