Artichokes are one rather unique vegetable that can be made into a delicious meal that also holds a lot of nutrients in it.
However, because artichokes are such strange-looking vegetables, it would make sense that anyone trying to eat an artichoke for the first time would be more than a little bit confused and not entirely sure about how it should be eaten, what parts of it can be eaten, and what parts of the artichoke should be cut away and not eaten.
In fact, if you have ever taken the time to search online about how you should eat artichokes, you should be relieved to know that there are more than a few different guides on the best way to prepare, serve, and slice up your artichoke so that you can make the most out of it.
With that being said, it is still important to know which parts of the artichoke are the best to eat and which ones should be avoided in case they may not be the best for human consumption.
Eating an Artichoke
Artichokes are strange-looking vegetables, with a mass of thick leaves covering the core of the artichoke and a long stem that you may not know what to do with. For the most part, artichokes are completely safe for humans to eat, aside from the “choke” of the artichoke and the sharp, hairy outer portions of the leaves.
Both of these parts are still “safe” to eat, but the problem is that they can easily become a choking hazard, much like the artichoke is named after, and it isn’t easy to get around that aspect of these parts of the plant, meaning that it is often best to just ignore them. So, what parts of the artichoke can you eat, and how should you go about eating it?
Part of what makes a difference in how you eat your artichoke is how you cooked it, as some cooking methods will have you taking the artichoke apart more than others, meaning that you may not even have to think about the parts of the artichoke you can’t eat if they have already been removed. Other times, you just need to be mindful.
If it feels like a part of the plant that you would be better off setting to the side and disposing of, then it is best to use your judgment and do so, so that you don’t run the risk of choking on the artichoke’s leaves or core.
Most of the artichoke can be eaten without worry, including the artichoke stem, the inside of the leaves, and the heart of the artichoke. Artichoke hearts are one of the most commonly enjoyed parts of an artichoke.
When you are planning to eat an artichoke, there are a few ways that you can go about dismantling this strange vegetable. The first step, depending on the cooking recipe you are working with, is to first cut the sharpest parts off the leaves of the artichoke, which will make it much easier to work with these leaves and peel them off to eat later.
Once the artichoke has been cooked, typically steaming, you should drain the artichoke so that there is no boiling water stuck inside the plant. This isn’t as much for the sake of the artichoke as it is that nobody really wants to get a mouthful of near-boiling water when taking apart the artichoke to eat.
After you have taken care of this, you will want to begin peeling the outermost leaves off. The edible portions of the leaves, assuming the artichoke was cooked properly, should be fairly obvious and distinct from the rest of the leaves, being lighter in color and being able to spot where the leaf was attached to the artichoke heart.
Typically here, you dip the edible portion of the leaf into the dip provided and you pull the tender bits of the leaf into your mouth by scraping your teeth along the leaf, pulling it outward.
As long as everything has been prepared properly, the edible portion of the leaf should detach without much effort and you can simply eat it, leaving you with the hard outer shell that you can discard as you please.
You will want to continue doing this until you reach the center of the artichoke, which will have both the hairy core and the artichoke heart. The leaves here should be translucent and almost purple in color to indicate that you have reached the center of the artichoke.
You can continue pulling off the leaves here, but because these leaves were protected by the large outer leaves, they will still have sharp tips on the ends of them that you do not want to eat. They are not poisonous, but they can be painful and even dangerous to swallow, depending on how sharp they are, so be mindful of this when you are eating the inner leaves.
Those thin leaves will have been covering the “choke” of the artichoke, which is a finely haired growth on top of the artichoke heart. Again, the choke is not necessarily poisonous to eat, but the fine hairs on it are prickly and make the choke incredibly unappetizing to consume, and it can also be a choking hazard because of this, so if you do choose to eat it, proceed with caution.
If you don’t plan on risking your health and comfort to eat the choke, you can use a fork or spoon to scrape the choke out until you have removed all of the choke, revealing the one part of the artichoke that just about everyone loves: the heart.
You will have now reached the “heart” of the artichoke, which is often the only part of the artichoke that people appreciate the most of and what restaurants make use out of. As long as you have removed all the leaves and the choke from the artichoke heart, you don’t have to do anything special to it to eat it, although it is often recommended to dip it if you want some of that extra flavor in the heart.
However unusual the artichoke may be, it is a unique vegetable eating experience that not everyone has the chance to really enjoy. As long as you are careful not to eat the inedible portions of the artichoke, it can be a surprisingly healthy and nutritious snack that goes well with certain dips, and if you happen to live in an area of the world where artichokes thrive, it can also make for an easy garden snack.
In the end, the truth is that all of the artichoke is edible, though some parts are much easier to get through than others.
The hard, fibrous leaves can be eaten, with some effort, although they do not taste good and can present a choking hazard if you are not able to sufficiently chew through that protective surface, and as such, it is almost always best to simply leave the shell of the leaves to the side so you can focus on getting to the heart.
Again, the choke is also edible, but not good for you, not good going down, and is also a choking hazard, meaning it is not worth your time trying to eat it.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.