April 19, 2012

Keeping Kitchen- Artichokes

When shopping at the market, as I mentioned, we first enjoy all the the seasons best fresh. As the season goes on, then prices start to drop and we think about buying in quantity and putting up the excess for another season.

I saw the first tiny "baby" artichokes at the market yesterday. Usually I would just clean these and make a nice raw artichoke carpaccio with some shaved parmesan cheese.

I first learned to make my preserved artichoke hearts from several vendors at Florence's San Lorenzo Market.

When I began shopping at the Mercato Centrale, the vegetable vendors were located upstairs. Three years ago, they moved the vendors outside in a large tent while they were restoring the upstairs. Just this year, they have moved all the vendors back into the market, but relocating them downstairs among the other stands, filling the market up again.

Of the original vendors, there are few of the original older ones left. Here are the "Zie", the Aunts.
Gianni's Aunt's
When I began shopping at the market, in 1988, I was collecting recipes everywhere I shopped.
These ladies cracked me up, as they disagreed on everything. I have found with all my recipe research, that if you ask 10 people for a recipe you will get at least 11 different ways to prepare it.

Recipes change not only from region to region but from neighborhood to neighborhood.

baby artichokes from the market, the first of the season

My current winning recipe for preserving these baby artichokes is from Leo Piazzesi. Leo has retired from the market, but his recipe for Carciofi Sott'Olio lives on on my site! 

Here is what I did today.

Take each artichoke and remove the tough outer leaves, until you see the pale yellow "heart"

Trim off the pointy tips, leaving the artichoke "heart".

Trim the stem and you have a perfect artichoke heart, ready to preserve.

As I cleaned the artichokes, one by one, I placed them in water with lemon juice so they wouldn't turn dark.

When the artichokes are all done, drain off the water.

Cover the artichokes with red wine vinegar and salt. Leave overnight. 
This "pickles" the artichoke hearts. 

Tomorrow I will drain them, place in a jar and cover with a light olive oil for the keeping kitchen.
They need to rest to lose some of the vinegar "bite". 
But these are fabulous because they keep their crunch.

Usually at the end of each season, when the artichokes are really inexpensive, I do about 350 of them.

Thanks to Leo and the "Zie" these recipes will live on.

Here is Leo's recipe for the artichokes.
Once you learn to clean the artichokes, there is also a fried artichoke recipe from my mother-in-law.


  1. That looks so much easier than the recipe I use, which involved a brief boiling. How much salt to vinegar?

  2. I hope there will be one for me to taste...
    a presto~

  3. Oh my goodness! Everytime I got to Italy to visit I am obsessed with these and have to take them home too. When my family visits they know that's all I want!!!! I am so excited to get the details of how to make it. Now to find some artichokes that small here in the states. If I could I would grow them, but they just don't do well in my location. Enjoy!!!

  4. Brilliant! You know you can use stems of parsley in the water instead of the lemon if that's too much acidity for you ... they serve the same purpose.

  5. I cannot wait to try this! Thank you!

  6. This recipe is so simple and no cook needed. It is inexpensive because this need little ingredients. I can't wait to try this one and I want to see the packaging.

  7. I often preserve my artichokes, but they are blanched first in a water/vinegar bath. This way, they are precooked, so I can just take them out and slice them up for a sandwich or pizza. I am really curious how you would use these? Thank you for the post.

  8. @erik- this is a crispier artichoke heart. we serve them as an antipasto.