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Artichoke stalks

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Last modified on: October 25th 2016

Artichoke stalks

When preparing artichokes for cooking, you may well already know that we often need to remove the first round of leaves, if they are tatty or dirty, as well as the inedible stalk. The operative word here is “remove”, rather than “cut off”. To show you better what I mean, here is what not to do:

Cutting artichoke stalk



Why? Well, it's because the artichoke stalk contains tough fibres that run up into the heart. These don't cook well (if at all) and are very unpleasant to eat. Cutting the stalk off with a knife, like in the photo, leaves the fibres in the heart intact.

Here's how to do it: do not cut the stalk, but break it off, as shown here:

Broken artichoke stalk



Hold the artichoke firmly on the edge of a table with one hand, then bend the stalk sharply with the other hand until it breaks off, bringing with it most of the fibres I mentioned earlier. It is worth noting that this is much easier to do when the artichoke is really fresh. Once the stalk starts to soften, it will bend without breaking properly.

To sum up: When preparing an artichoke for cooking, do not cut the stalk, but break it off instead.

Important: it is quite different for the small purple artichokes, which can be eaten with their stalk (and everything else).


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