To cook a whole artichoke, wash it, trim the stems, and boil it or steam it. Choosing a good artichoke is also an important part of the process, which includes selecting an artichoke with a dark green color and leaves close together. Artichokes are best in the spring.
When washing artichokes, do so before cooking them, not before storing. Washing before storing may cause the artichoke to spoil quickly due to the excess moisture. After rinsing the artichoke, cut the stem and remove it. Only the end of the stem needs to be removed unless it is going to stand upright when served; then the entire stem can be removed.
Preparing the artichoke before cooking also requires removing the outermost leaves, including those close to the stem. Trim the leaf tips, as these have prickly edges -- scissors work fine for this. The two main ways to cook whole artichokes are steaming them and boiling them. To steam artichokes, add about an inch of water to a pot with a steamer basket inside. Let the water boil, and then place the artichokes into the steamer basket. Steam for 20 to 25 minutes or until the leaves come off easily from the center.
To boil artichokes, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the artichokes, and let the water boil once more. Once it is boiling, reduce to a simmer, and let boil in the water for up to 30 minutes.