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Perfect Pickins: Artichokes

Let's face it: being a domestic diva whose prowess ranges from expertly baking a cake to masterly manhandling a chopping knife is hard. There is so much to learn and it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

Take a deep breath, I'm here to help. One thing that is super important, often overlooked, and not necessarily common knowledge is how to select groceries. We've all read tons of articles on how to pick the perfect pair of jeans, but where's the 411 on how to choose the correct fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meats? Right here in my new feature Perfect Pickins. I'll explain how to maneuver gracefully through the grocery store so you'll walk out with only the ripest and best tasting foods.

When shopping for artichokes look for those with bronze or frost marks on the leaf tips. People usually avoid these ones because they appear a little damaged, but those in the know jump at the sight. The damage is minimal and the flavor maximal and more delicate. Pick artichokes that feel heavy for their size (fresh artichokes will be heavy for their size due to their moisture content) and have tightly closed buds. Open leaves indicate that they are too mature. The leaves should be a soft green or purple in color and squeak when pressed. Avoid moldy or wilted leaves and stay away from any that are purple in color. These are signs that the artichoke is overripe. For a tasty artichoke treat, serve them steamed with basil mayonnaise.

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