Selecting High-Quality Artichokes:
Select those with uniformly green color, compact globes and tightly adhering leaves. As artichokes age, their leaves start to unfold like petals.
Preparing for Freezing:
Artichokes should only be frozen after cooking, and not frozen raw. Left uncooked, they will become discolored during freezing and have a poor flavor when cooked. To prepare whole artichokes for freezing, remove all of the outer leaves, including the choke (fuzzy part), until you reach the pale colored inner bracts. The portion that is left at the base is the heart. Trim the tops and stems, wash the hearts in cold water and drain well.
Blanch in a mixture of 1/2 cup lemon juice or 1 tablespoon of ascorbic acid to 2 quarts water to keep globes from darkening. Blanch small artichokes for 3 to 5 minutes, and medium sized artichokes for 7 minutes. Place face down on towel to drain.
Best Freezing Method(s):
- Tray Packs: Drained artichokes can be placed in the freezer on cookie sheets, face-side up, until fully frozen. Once frozen, place desired portions into suitable containers and return to freezer.
- Dry Packs: Once cooled, blanched artichoke hearts can be transferred directly into suitable containers for freezing. Because they cannot be packed tightly together, it isn't necessary to leave headspace in containers when freezing artichokes. Steamed artichokes can also be cooked, wrapped in foil, placed in plastic bags and frozen whole.
Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor resistant and should not be prone to cracking or breaking at low temperatures. Containers should protect food from absorbing flavors or odors and should be easy to label. Suitable packaging for freezing artichokes includes freezer-grade plastic bags, rigid plastic or glass containers or heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Maximum Storage Time:
6 to 8 months at 0ºF.
To thaw artichokes, remove them from the freezer and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Place the artichokes in foil over steaming water until thawed and cook as desired.
Tips & Shortcuts:
A small hole drilled into the base of the artichoke will help heat penetrate more readily while blanching.
Store fresh artichokes up to 1 week in the refrigerator by sprinkling them with a little water and placing them in an airtight plastic bag.
By Ellen Brown