With a very sharp chef’s knife, cut off the tough end of the stem and trim the top one-third of the artichoke. Rub all cut surfaces with a half lemon to prevent browning.
Remove some but not all of the outer leaves; leave enough to dip the tender bottom ends into vinaigrette, melted butter, or another sauce when the artichoke is cooked. Trim the sharp tips from the remaining leaves using kitchen scissors.
Peel the skin from the stem and the bottom of the artichoke. As you prepare each artichoke, drop it into a large bowl of lemon water.
Pull apart the leaves at the top of the artichoke until you can see the inner, hairy “choke,” which is inedible and hides the tender heart. You can remove the choke after the artichoke is cooked, or, if you will be stuffing the artichoke, before. Using a small spoon, scoop out as much of the choke as possible, being careful not to remove the heart. You can now steam, boil, microwave, or pressure-cook the artichokes according to whatever recipe you choose. Artichokes are done when you can easily pierce the stem with a sharp knife.
Originally published in Organic Gardening Magazine April/May 2013.