Notes on Preparing Artichokes
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
The end justifies the means?
What a lot of work!
Cleaning artichokes can be fairly easy as long as you have a sharp knife and a little patience.  If you are preparing a dish with artichoke hearts, fresh artichokes are infinitely preferable to canned.  And if you are serving steamed artichokes to guests, it is very elegant to serve trimmed wedges with the choke removed.

As soon as you cut an artichoke, it will begin to oxidize and turn brown.  To slow this process, have ready a large bowl of cold water in which you've squeezed a couple of lemons (or added a few tablespoons of lemon juice).  When you have trimmed each piece, drop it in the bowl and let it sit there until you are ready to cook it.

  • To prepare artichoke hearts:  Wash the artichoke and pull off the outer leaves.  The inner leaves have a lighter green shade where they connect to the stem.  Cut off all but 1/2" of stem, and slice off the top about an inch above the stem, to remove the inedible portion of the leaves, along with their prickly tips.  With a paring knife, cut away any dark, stringy material around the base and stem, and trim any leaves that are thick and likely to be unchewable when cooked.  Slice the artichoke in half lengthwise and use a knife or spoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon works best) to scoop out the choke and the tiny, papery leaves around it.  All in all, you will be discarding an alarming portion of the artichoke, but most of that is inedible anyway.
  • To prepare artichoke wedges:  Wash the artichoke and pull off the outer leaves.  Cut off all but 1/2" of stem.  If you want, you can slice off the top inch or so, to remove the prickly leaf ends.  With a paring knife, cut away any dark, stringy material around the base and stem.  Slice the artichoke into lengthwise quarters and use a knife or spoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon works best) to scoop out the choke and the tiny, papery leaves around it.
  • To prepare baby artichokes:  Most of the baby artichoke is edible, since the choke and the innermost dry leaves have not yet developed.  Wash the artichoke and pull off any under-developed or tough-looking outer leaves.  If the leaf ends have prickles, slice the tips off.  Leave them whole or halve them, depending on how you want to serve them.
  • To prepare artichokes for stuffing:  Wash the artichoke and pull off the toughest of the outer leaves.  Cut off all but 1/2" of stem and slice off the top inch or so, to remove the prickly leaf ends.  With a paring knife, cut away any dark, stringy material around the base and stem.  Carefully pull the leaves apart and use a knife or spoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon works best) to scoop out the choke and the thin inner leaves.  Rinse thoroughly and plunge in lemon water until you are ready to stuff them.