Turkeysong

Experimental Homestead

Marinated Artichoke Hearts From Scratch

artichoke header

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I already posted about marinated artichoke hearts briefly in my !ARTICHOKES! post a few years ago, but I thought I would revisit it in a slightly expanded and more visual post.  I did a little surfing to see if I should bother writing this up (as in maybe it has been covered well enough already), and was surprised to find that almost everyone recommends using canned or frozen artichoke hearts!  We live in a society besieged by convenience.  If you have the will and inspiration to make your own artichoke hearts, consider doing it from scratch all the way, and even planting some artichoke plants to have them to can in the future.  It’s not that bad to process a pile of artichokes.  Just make sure your knife is the right kind and plenty sharp, put on a movie or a book on tape, or just sit in the shade and let your mind wander.  The more you do this kind of stuff, the better you become at it, and that includes that part of falling into a different rhythm of work where time slips away and is measured against quality of life instead of against money.  I wanted to write a detailed post that walks us visually through the steps.  I hope that this post might attract adequate search engine hits to compete with the average short, un-detailed recipes out there using frozen and canned hearts, but it’s difficult to compete with sites like ehow which rank high in the engines even though they are often fairly useless. If you find this article really useful, please leave a comment.  Posts with lots of comments rank higher in search engine results which should make it easier to for others to find in the future.

Home canned artichoke hearts from scratch are really good and if you have a lot of artichokes, they are hard to beat as a way to preserve what you can’t eat fresh.  I like artichokes a lot but there were way more artichokes than I could keep up with eating fresh this year, so I canned almost 40 half pints.  Your marinated artichoke hearts will be excellent, better than store bought.

Marinated artichoke hearts from the store are often fibrous and may even contain a few weak spines.  That does not have to be the case.  When you can your own, and you can make the highest quality hearts, picked young and peeled down to only the tender parts.  The artichokes must be picked at the right stage though and processed carefully by hand.  the artichokes sold in stores are very mature having hard stems with the scales and base well developed.  The choke, or hairs, in the center of store artichoke are also well developed.  For marinated hearts, you need to pick them when the choke is still soft and edible.  Picking cues may vary by variety, but I look at several things….

Size:  Size is relative, because the artichokes become smaller as the season progresses, but it is still a good que as long as you keep in mind that each time you pick, the average size will probably be a little smaller than the last time.

Scales:  As the artichoke matures, the scales at the base can open out more rather than laying tightly against the bud.

Stem:  the stem on a less mature choke is still somewhat rubbery.  Bend the stems on several immature and mature specimens to get a feel.  Pick chokes that have still rubbery necks.  They don’t have to be super rubbery, but I find that the stiffer they get, the more likely it is that the choke is too far developed.  This is my best que for when to pick, but I use all three parameters listed above.

this photo shows three artichokes at different stages of maturity. The on the left is suitable for canning. Note the level of development of the hairs, or choke, in all three.

this photo shows three artichokes at different stages of maturity. The one on the left is suitable for canning. Note the level of development of the hairs, or choke, in all three.  You could maybe get away with using the one in the middle, but it is becoming fibrous and hairy and would be best cooked and eaten.

Varieties:  I don’t recommend green globe at all.  It is the most common artichoke variety, but it has always grown poorly for me being disease susceptible, small and unproductive.  If you are canning any number of hearts, you need big, healthy plants that can produce a lot of artichokes.  I grow two varieties.  I like Imperial star, and an unknown variety of a small spiny type that I have grown for many years.  Both are large healthy, vigorous plants that produce lots of buds, 30 and up per plant.  For now, I can recommend the widely available Imperial star with some confidence.

Numbers:  If you want to can a significant amount of artichoke hearts, I’d recommend growing 3 or more of these vigorous types, so you can harvest enough buds at one time to make it worth your effort.   5 plants is working well for me, but I’d prefer a few more and will probably be expanding soon since they are low maintenance.

Paring the buds down:  The following photos illustrate how to prepare the buds.  Use a small sharp knife.

Slip the knife under one of the lowest bud scales so that you are cutting through a few of the lowest scales when you cut the base off.

Slip the knife under one of the lowest bud scales so that you are cutting through a few of the lowest scales when you cut the base off.

artichoke 1

Peel off most of the scales. There is a knack to snapping them cleanly off downward with a pushing motion. I can’t describe it well, but ideally you would like to snap the bud scales off without leaving any part of them behind. The first couple of rows will not usually snap off so clean, but you can trim off any bits of the scale bases that are left behind. Snap off scales until there is very little if any green color showing on the remaining scales. You can pull off a scale and bite it to get an idea of whether you are down to the tender scales. You should be able to bite the scales off easily at least half way up the scale, if not a little more. it may not be super tender, but still easily bitten through with the teeth.

Peel off most of the scales. There is a knack to snapping them cleanly off.  It is sort of  downward with a pushing motion. I can’t describe it well, but ideally you would snap the bud scales off without leaving any part of them behind, such as the green part showing in this picture. The first couple of rows will not usually snap off as cleanly, as seen here, but you can trim off any bits of the scale bases that are left behind. Snap off scales until there is very little if any green color showing on the remaining scale tips.  They should appear yellow as in this picture.   You can pull off a scale and bite it to get an idea of whether you are down to the tender part. You should be able to bite the scales off easily at least half way up the scale, if not a little more. it may not be super tender, but should still easily bitten through with the teeth.

Pare out the tip of the bud with a sharp knife tip. this step may not be absolutely necessary, but it just takes a few seconds and insure that there will be no spines or fibrous parts left and it wastes hardly anything.

Cut the tips off and pare out the center of the bud with a sharp knife tip. Paring out the center may not be absolutely necessary, but it just takes a few seconds and insures that there will be no spines or fibrous parts left.  Also trim off any pieces of the bud scale bases that remain.  The cut areas of the hearts will oxidize rapidly, turning brown.  In order to slow oxidation, drop them into water until ready to pack into jars.

I like to cut the hearts into sixths or eighths so that they are already in good bite sized pieces straight out of the jar. Don’t cut them until you are ready to proceed with adding the vinegar and stuff to the jar, and work quickly to minimize oxidation.

I like to cut the hearts into sixths or eighths so that they are already in bite sized pieces straight out of the jar. Don’t cut them until you are ready to proceed with adding the vinegar and stuff to the jar, and work quickly to minimize oxidation.

Pack the hearts into jars about 1/2 inch from the tops. I like to use 1/2 pint jars. Anything larger is likely to not be used up in one or two meal. Add white wine or rice vinegar to fill about half of the jar. Fill the rest of the jar with water to about 1/2 inch from the top. sprinkle in some Oregano and add a small piece of bay leaf to each. 1/4 teaspoon of salt, some fresh ground black pepper and a teaspoon or two of olive oil floated on top complete the marinade. I’ve found this simple marinade to be excellent, complementing the subtle flavor of the artichoke hearts rather than overpowering it with heavier herb or garlic flavors.

Pack the hearts into jars about 1/2 inch from the tops. I like to use 1/2 pint jars. Anything larger is likely to not be used up in one or two meals. With the jar packed, add white wine or rice vinegar to fill about half of the jar. Fill the rest of the jar with water to about 1/2 inch from the top. sprinkle in some Oregano and add a small piece of bay leaf. 1/4 teaspoon of salt, some fresh ground black pepper and a teaspoon or two of olive oil floated on top complete the marinade. I’ve found this simple recipe to be excellent, complementing the subtle flavor of the artichoke hearts rather than overpowering it with heavier herb or garlic flavors.  Sorry, this picture is terrible compared to the others.  Bad lighting.

Wipe the jar rims and place the lids on, screwing them down moderately tight.  Place the jars in cold water, completely covered and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, boil hard for 50 minutes.  50 minutes is longer than they need to cook for canning safety purposes, but they still need to cook that full amount of time to become adequately tender.

Once the time is up.  Turn off the heat for a couple of minutes until boiling completely subsides.  Remove the jars and allow to cool before removing the rings, rinsing the jars and labeling.  If giving the jars away as gifts, don’t be afraid to ask for your jars back.  They are expensive, and most people won’t use them again, which is just wasteful.

Mostly I use my artichoke hearts in salads.  They are also good on pizza, to nibble on with bread, cheese and olives, topping a simple pasta, minced in tapenade or other spreads or just eaten straight out of the jar.  The marinade makes a pretty good salad dressing too.  Making your own marinated artichoke hearts is not only tasty and indicative of good wholesome values, but it will also enrich your life and make you sexier and more popular; so what are you waiting for!

Happy canning, and happy eating!

towerng artichoke hearts

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June 28, 2013 - Posted by | Food and Drink Making, Garden Stuff | , , , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. wonderfully detailed article and beautiful photos. also, i love that the knife matches the artichokes.

    Comment by madeoftinyboxes | June 28, 2013 | Reply

    • thanks! :D Knife matching was a happy accident. I think there is a jar of marinated artichoke hearts in your future…

      Comment by Stevene | June 29, 2013 | Reply

  2. I’m not much of a gardener, being more into foraging and things, so i’m more likely to be found nibbling on burdocks and thistles than these guys. I’ve been a bit down on artichokes, perhaps unfairly but maybe it’s just the varieties i’ve seen…seems like a lot of greens for a tiny little bracty nibble. When I get a garden of my own I’ll definitely give these a go though. I do like them, even the ones from the store. One question.. Do you think it would be possible to lacto-ferment these? Have you done much with that side of preservation? Love your work, keep it up. Great pics. Chris

    Comment by chrissfoodjourneys | June 29, 2013 | Reply

    • I have quite a bit of experience doing lacto-fermentation, and hope to get to blogging about that soon. I did try to ferment some artichoke hearts and they were super weird. They have some kind of gooey sap in them which became sticky. Also, they just tasted weird. And they do need cooking to soften them up. I tend to think cooking and then fermenting is a bad idea. You definitely don’t get much out of artichokes. more of a specialty than a staple. But then they are easy to grow, so it works out pretty good.

      Comment by Stevene | June 29, 2013 | Reply

      • Would love to read blogs about fermenting, will stay posted.
        Some things just weren’t meant to be fermented I suppose. Kale sauerkraut was a big stinking mess! We live and learn.
        I hear what you’re saying, especially if you’ve got the room for them, definitely liven up a salad or pizza like you said.

        Comment by chrissfoodjourneys | June 30, 2013

      • I heard that growing artichokes was outlawed in France during one of the world wars, because they produce so little real food for space taken. A real luxury food. But then, we aren’t in that situation and having a few plants along an edge where you can put grey water or throw out the dish water, or just pee on them a few times during the winter months, they will grow like weeds and are self mulching to an extent.

        I have quite a bit to say about lacto-fermentation. many people don’t really understand the basic parameters involved and I’d like to clear some of that up for people so they can experiment with more likelihood of success. In the mean time, there is my slightly outdated Pepperoncini, Pimentos and Hot Sauce article which discusses much of what I would want to say anyway.

        Comment by Stevene | June 30, 2013

  3. Thank you for the detailed post! I’m in zone 2, so artichokes are not really a thing up here, but I decided to try growing some anyhow this year. I’m not expecting a lot of success, but if I do get artichokes, I’ll know what to do with them!

    Comment by jj | June 30, 2013 | Reply

  4. Great info Steven! Like JJ, I am probably too far north to have much success, but maybe with climate change that will change. I have thought about growing cardoons though. Close relative of the artichoke, and more likely to thrive up here in Minnesota. Any thoughts?

    Comment by autonomyacres | June 30, 2013 | Reply

    • I grew cardoon once. It didn’t seem that exciting. takes up a lot of space too. I think they are essentially the same plant, so would be inclined to think they are the same hardiness. Given one of the other, go with the artichoke I say. Maybe if you surrounded it with bales and filled that with leaves? Probably not. Let me know if you figure it out. If it’s possible, someone has already got it figured it out, because I’ve had this conversation over and over.

      Comment by Stevene | July 1, 2013 | Reply

  5. Thanks you Steven – informative and inspiring, as always. Planning an artichoke patch in my head right now. Well, the plants will be on my allotment but the idea is in my head.

    Comment by Tommo | July 1, 2013 | Reply

  6. Makes me wish I had room enough to grow artichokes.

    Comment by Michael Schmidt | July 5, 2013 | Reply

  7. This is an excellent tutorial. We have 4 acres here and in summer, Tasmania is a pretty dry place so Artichokes are an excellent plant to grow. Aside from the wallabies loving to eat them, they are pretty much self sufficient :)

    Comment by narf77 | July 6, 2013 | Reply

  8. Excellent!! I most appreciated your comments in the beginning about finding the rhythm of work and experiencing the quality of that rather than ‘saving’ time and money by buying. I experience that in my fiber/textile work. Doing this kind of caring for yourself and your family is indeed indicative of wholesome values necessary for a high quality life. It is sad that Americans in general have believed the food industry hype that it doesn’t really matter what you eat. We used to be able to look to the French and Italians for guidance but now Mc Donalds and Starbucks are making deep inroads there. Slow Food—yes.
    It may be worth giving cardoon another chance where you are now. If you double the number of artichoke plants then you might have enough for me also……….Mom

    Comment by Miriam | September 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Yes, that has been a recurring theme for me in lots of the work I do. It’s nearly impossible not to be polluted by the time and effort = money mindset in our age. It’s also frustrating to attempt to communicate to people who don’t “get” it. Thankfully a lot of people still do this stuff anyway. Actually, I think there is a new groundswell of interest in home food production and preservation, which is encouraging. Cardoon eh. Well, maybe. I’m moving my artichoke patch over about 5 feet, so Maybe I’ll put one in there and give it another chance. I’m not sure that I even like it that much, but maybe I just haven’t had it prepared well, or with enough butter!

      Comment by Stevene | September 17, 2013 | Reply

  9. Love it, thank you for sharing
    It’s good to try a new food especially it is also good for health. In my country, this plant is so expensive and rarely grown, only in highland area.

    Comment by Trung | January 6, 2016 | Reply

    • It is even expensive here if you don’t grow your own. It is easy to grow though if the climate is right.

      Comment by Stevene | January 6, 2016 | Reply


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