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What is an artichoke?
Artichoke is an extraordinary vegetable that is well worth adding to your kitchen.
While it may not be the easiest food to prepare, the majority of the phytochemicals, nutrients & minerals are found in this greens. The heart is the most popular part people buy though the leaves are found to be even richer in healthy benefits. Its leaf extract is proven to be an effective food in fighting disease and anti-aging characteristics.
The risk of having these most common diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, liver dysfunction, heart disease, and even cancer can be reduced by consuming food products rich in phytonutrients.
Artichokes are packed with phytonutrients namely, rutin, quercetin, cynarin and gallic acid. When the United States Department of Agriculture conducted its largest and most comprehensive study analyzing the antioxidant activity of the most commonly consumed food products in 2004, artichokes was in the 4th ranking for the vegetables and seventh as an overall food.
Other interesting properties of artichokes is that it has the ability to make other food sweet. Saveur magazine even discussed the fact that artichokes can be paired with wine.
A food writer, Harold McGee explained the science behind this phenomenon in his book, ‘On Food & Cooking’. As mentioned earlier, artichoke contains a phytochemical, called cynarin. Cynarin restrains the sweet-perceiving part of the taste buds. Upon taking the next bite of food, the cynarin is washed away and the human brain interprets the contrast as a rush of sweetness.
As a consequence this is can also be a good addition to increase the sweetness of home-cooked meals.
Why cooking it in a pressure cooker is good a good idea
As I mentioned, artichokes contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals and
phytochemicals. Ideally we want to retain these properties, which means we must pick the cooking method carefully.
Using a very high amount of heat can destroy these health benefits. Utilizing a pressure cooker can be of great advantage.
Food products tend to retain most of its nutrients and are tastier using this method of
cooking compared to other traditional cooking methods.
The longer foods are exposed to heat, the more the nutrients are diminished or destroyed. Using less liquid, foods prepared in a pressure cooker are faster to cook. Any liquid added is boiled off, leaving the food with most of its nutritional content.
Shorter cooking time means the artichoke will be less likely lose it’s color and flavor, and importantly the minerals and vitamins which could be lost in the liquid and then evaporated away. This can happen if cooking in large quantities of in liquid for a long period of time.
In principle, a pressure cooker reduces cooking time as much as 70%.
In conclusion, pressure cooking enhances the richness and natural flavors of the food you are cooking.
How to cook artichoke in a pressure cooker
Aside from preventing too much nutrient loss, a pressure cooker is also the fastest way too cook artichokes.
If done correctly, cooking artichoke can be a very quick process. In less than 15 minutes, it is ready to be served. This cooking method also ensures that the artichoke is super tender and evenly cooked. Cooking in a pressure cooker saves energy and time.
Pressure cooker with steaming rack
A good chef’s knife
- Using a chef’s knife, slice the dried ends from the stem of the artichoke. Leave as much stem as possible. Peel the hard outer portion using a vegetable peeler. Note that the stems can be consumed in the same way as the heart.
- Using the kitchen shears, snip the sharp points off the leaves. Once the tightly closed leaves are reached, a chef’s knife may be used to slice the tips off.
- In a large pressure cooker, use a steaming rack or trivet and add just the right amount of water to cover the base of the steamer. Allow to boil and add the artichokes by stacking them in an arranged manner or on top of each other if necessary.
- Lock the cover into place and set to a high pressure over high heat. When the desired pressure is reached, set the timer for 15 minutes or for extra-large artichokes, 17 minutes.
- Once cooked, use the quick-release technique to get-rid of the pressure, then open the cover away from the face to avoid being burned by the escaping steam.
- To remove the hot artichokes from the pressure cooker using tongs. To test if the artichoke is cooked, pull off one of the leaves. The leaf should pull away easily and the flesh at the base of the leaves should also be soft. If the artichoke does not seem fully cooked, put the lid back on, bring back to the required pressure and cook for another five minutes.
A shorter method for preparing artichokes using a pressure cooker can also work well:
A 5.5L pressure cooker can hold three to four medium-sized artichokes. They may be stacked in layers if necessary.
- Start off by trimming the trips off the leaves. These are very sharp and inedible.
- Cut-off the top and rub with lemon juice to prevent the oxidation process, which just means the artichoke won’t turn brown.
- Place the artichokes cut-side down inside the pressure cooker.
- Add about one cup of water and a tablespoon of salt. Finally, turn the pressure cooker on high for 7-10 minutes taking in to consideration the size of the artichokes.
- The artichokes can be considered cooked when the leaves can be easily pulled away, but not fall apart. If the leaves fall apart then the artichoke is overcooked.