Here’s something that I never ate until I was an adult. That is a fresh, whole artichoke. My husband’s family loves to eat this vegetable — just for the fun of it. It is a social activity — sort of like a Louisiana crawfish boil. My mother-in-law boils the artichokes in a pressure cooker until tender. To eat them, you pluck off individual leaves, dip them in butter — or garlic butter. — and pull the pulp off the leaf between your teeth. You also eat the artichoke heart — that’s the best part. When my husband brought some colossal artichokes home from the grocery store, we decided to try cooking them in my new Instant Pot. So simple and the artichokes cook much quicker than boiling on a stove. In addition to enjoying the wonderful flavor of the artichokes, we learned that they are a powerhouse of nutritional value.
I love artichokes — mainly the artichoke hearts and quarters which come in jars — cooked in any dish. Cooking and eating a whole fresh artichoke was a new experience to me. I discovered that is extremely easy to cook them. Once you get then hang of how to pluck the leaves and pull the flesh off between your teeth to eat them, it is an entertaining way to enjoy the artichoke.
Artichokes are the flower bud of a type of thistle. In this country, artichokes are primarily grown in California. The harvest season is during the months of March through June and September through October; so now is the time to purchase a fresh artichoke and try this dish.
As an added benefit, artichokes are packed with nutritional value. Among vegetables, they are extremely high in antioxidants. Plus, they are rich in fiber and several vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. The anticancer effects of artichokes appear to include the antioxidants of rutin, quercetin, silymarin, and gallic acid.
When purchasing a fresh artichoke, look for ones with tight and compact leaves and the top center closed. (The tops have been cut off the ones in the above photo.) The artichokes should be heavy for their size and squeak when you rub a finger down the leaf. Some discoloration is normal. The artichokes in the photo below look pretty good.
How to a cook a whole artichoke
My mother-in-law uses a traditional pressure cooker to cook the fresh artichokes. It cuts down on the cooking time from about an hour (boiling in a pot on the stove) to about ten minutes for a medium sized artichoke (boiling in a pressure cooker). Using an Instant Pot rather than a traditional pressure cooker to cook the whole artichoke is the same method; just much easier and safer.
To cook the artichokes using an Instant Pot, you simply need a fresh artichoke and water. Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the stem so that the base of the artichokes is flat and level. Then cut off part of about an inch of the top of the artichoke. This allows the steam to get to the interior of the artichoke. Pour one cup of water into a 6-quart Instant Pot (or 2 cups of water for an 8-quart instant pot). Pressure cooking involves heating water to steam which raises the temperature in the Instant Pot and allows for quicker cooking. So you must add liquid to the pot. Place the trivet or metal wire rack in the Instant Pot and lower in the artichokes.
Place and lock on the cover on the Instant Pot. Set the pressure cooker time according to the size of the artichoke. Small ones cook in about eight to ten minutes. These colossal artichokes cooked in about 20 to 25 minutes. the artichokes are done cooking when they are soft when pierced with a knife. If still tough, just cook a little longer.
How do you eat an artichoke?
Artichokes are traditionally served with butter or some type of dipping sauce. We are dipping these artichokes in garlic butter. So melt the butter and crush the garlic cloves while the artichokes cook.
To eat the artichoke, pull off a lower, outer leaf. Dip the stem end in butter and pull the pulp of the lower half of the leaf be tween with your teeth. (You don’t eat the spiky, pointed ends of the artichoke leaves.) Work your way up the artichoke, pulling leaves off as you go.
When you get most of the leaves pulled off, the choke is exposed. The choke is the feathery center — you don’t eat this. Cut the choke away with a sharp knife to get to the artichoke heart — this is the best part. Dip it in butter. Yum.
Here’s the artichoke heart. This one broke up as we cut out the feathery choke.
So, that’s how you cook and eat an artichoke. I learned something new and never would have figured it by myself. Fresh artichokes are very tasty when prepared this way. It is a fun, social activity. Enjoy!
Instant Pot Magic: Steamed Whole Artichokes
- 4 small to medium artichokes or 2 colossal artichokes
- 1 cup water (6-qt Instant Pot) or 2 cups water (8-qt Instant Pot)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 garlic cloves
Instructions and Steps:
- Rinse the artichokes off by letting set in a large bowl of cold water for several minutes. Remove artichokes and pat dry.
- With a chef or kitchen knife, cut the stem of the artichoke off so the base is level. Also remove any tough, small leaves at the base of the artichoke.
- Then cut off one inch of the top of the artichoke.
- Add 1 cup of water to the 6-qt Instant Pot pot (or 2 cups water for an 8-qt Instant Pot).
- Place the trivet or wire rack in the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Lower in the artichokes, base end down.
- Place lid on Instant Pot and turn to lock. Set the Instant Pot to “Pressure Setting.” In the Custom Setting screen, turn to 8 minutes on “High” setting for small to medium-sized artichokes or 20 minutes for large artichokes.. Turn the pressure vent to “Seal.” Press “Start.” Make sure the “Keep Warm” setting is also pressed.
- When the cooking is complete, use the “Quick Release” valve to release the pressure. Steam will escape from the vent. When the float valve shows that the pressure is totally released, remove lid.
- Pierce several of the leaves with a knife. If tender, artichoke is cooked. If still tough, cook 5 minutes longer. When cooked, carefully remove with tongs.
- Meanwhile, prepare garlic butter. Melt butter in microwave (approx 30 sec.) Crush peeled garlic cloves and add to butter.
- To eat, pluck off a lower leaf. Dip the stem end in garlic butter. Pull about half of the leaf through your teeth to scrape off the flesh. (You don’t eat the spiky pointed end of the leaf.)
- When most of leaves are eaten, cut out the feathery choke to expose the heart of the artichoke. Eat the heart, too. This is the best part!