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The artichoke that isn’t - Jerusalem artichokes in the home garden & recipes

Organic NZ Magazine: 
September/October 2007
Pam Blowers

The Jerusalem artichoke is a brown-coloured, knobbly, white-fleshed tuber root vegetable from the daisy (Compositae) family. It is not related to Globe Artichoke.

In the USA it is known more commonly as Sunchoke, and in Italy as Girasola artiocco, the sunflower artichoke (girasola means to turn the sun).

Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America, and the earliest mention is in a report by the European explorer Samuel de Champlain when he discovered them growing in an American Indian vegetable garden in 1605. By 1612 they had become popular in Europe both as human and animal food.

The plants can easily be grown by burying a fresh tuber 10 to15cm deep, preferably in a small hill of soil to make harvesting easier. Cut the plant down once the leaves have decayed, not before or the tubers will cease growing.
To keep larger tubers forming, a new bed should be made every three years; the only problem is that every piece you leave behind will grow. This is isnt a problem if you keep pigs they because love rooting for them.

The planted tubers will sprout in spring, the new tubers forming just before flowering when the plants reach one to three metres in height. The yellow flowers are similar to a small sunflower.

Each plant can produce more than 75 tubers, with 200 having been recorded on a single plant.

Jerusalem artichokes can be grown on poor soil, but the tubers would be small. They are also not partial to clay, but will grow.

Sometimes for sale at growers’ markets, it is surprising that Jerusalem artichokes are not grown more often as a winter vegetable. A crop is always guaranteed, even in the shade, although larger tubers are produced when the soil is light and rich, making them easier to harvest, as the tubers tend to cling to the roots and become entwined. Cultivated types tend to grow close to the main root/rhizome while wild ones grow at the end of roots.

Jerusalem artichokes are highly suitable for diabetics because of the inulin (an oligosaccharide) content. This is a dietary fibre with a mild, sweet taste that doesn’t require the pancreas to produce insulin. Dietary fibre such as this swells in the colon and helps everything else move along. It also makes you feel fuller which is good if you have a weight problem.

Containing just 57 calories per half -cup, the tuber also contains an impressive 327mg of potassium, a good supply of iron, plus a variety of other minerals and vitamins.

The Jerusalem artichoke is extremely an versatile and nutritious vegetable which can also be used for livestock feed, fuel-grade alcohol (ethanol & butanol), and fructose production. The sugars from one acre can produce 1800 litres of alcohol.

In France, Jerusalem artichokes have been used for wine and beer production, and the foliage can be used to make silage Jerusalem artichokes can be scrubbed, stir-fried, baked, steamed, boiled or eaten raw, and their delicate sweetness and nutty flavour make them an excellent, crispy substitute for water chestnuts.


Jerusalem artichoke recipes


Jerusalem artichoke spread for sandwiches

1 ripe avocado
1 1/2 tbl fresh lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Sea salt and a dash of cayenne (opt)
1/4 cup flaxseed oil or oil of choice
Put first four ingredients into blender or processor and mix then slowly add enough oil to make a thick creamy sauce.
2 cups coarsely shredded Jerusalem artichoke
1/2 cup raw or toasted pecans, coarsely chopped or ground
1/4 red pepper, finely diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine in a bowl then add enough of the avocado mix to bind it all together
Spread a thin coating of the avocado mix on to bread, spread the mix over the bread, top with salad leaves such as basil, leaves, tomato, lettuce, slice of avocado.

Quinoa sunchoke pilaf

1./2 cup quinoa
2 tbl oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 & 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
3/4 cup chickpeas (cooked or canned), drained and rinsed
1 cup peeled, chopped Jerusalem artichokes
1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1/4tsp freshly ground pepper
Place quinoa into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Pour it all into a strainer, repeat three more times. Drain well.
Heat oil, add the quinoa and cook, stirring until it cracks and pops, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the onion and cook stirring till onion is soft.
Add broth and bring to the boil.
Add the chickpeas, artichokes, peas and pepper
Simmer covered for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving (serves 4 to 6)

Sunchoke and kumara gratin

1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 & 1/2 cups cream or 1 tin coconut cream
Salt & pepper
3 tsps lemon thyme leaves
1 kilo kumura
1/2 kilo Jerusalem artichokes
In a saucepan combine the stock with the cream, pepper & salt, bring to a boil then remove from heat.
Slice the kumara and artichokes into thin slices.
Place 1/3rd of the kumara into a buttered dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and lemon thyme.
Scatter half of the artochokes on top, then pour on a cup of the stock mixture
Repeat these layers again, finish with a layer of kumara sprinkled with a teaspoon of lemon thyme. Drizzle the remaining stock mixture on top.
Bake uncovered at 350F until fork tender, reduce heat after 20 minutes if necessary
Rest at room temperature before serving (serves 4 to 6).

Sunchoke wholemeal quick bread

2 cups spelt or wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium Jerusalem artichokes, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/2 turnip or swede, grated
1/2 parsnip, grated
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
Mix all the above together in a bowl then add
1/2 cup coconut cream
2 tbl maple syrup
1/2 to 1 cup water
Add just enough water to moisten the whole mixture.
Pour into a greased pan or bread tin and bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.
Test with a skewer, place on a rack to cool.

Sunchoke salad

2 cups scrubbed Jerusalem artichokes, thinly sliced
1 cup Granny Smith apple, peeled and julienned
1 cup yakon or Florence fennel, peeled and julienned (or extra apple)
1 medium red pepper, julienned
1 medium yellow pepper, julienned
4 spring onions or a medium red onion, chopped
1 ½ cups red kidney beans (tinned or cooked), strained
Coarsely chopped watercress, coriander, mustard greens or parsley.
Combine all the ingredients above in a large bowl.
This salad can be combined with the Sunchoke bread for a delicious lunch.
Stir or mix in your favourite dressing or try either of the following

Nut and seed salad

11/2 cups mixed pine nuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds,
11/2 cups sweet red, orange or yellow pepper
1/2 lemon, peeled and pips removed
2 cloves garlic
1 tbl Bragg Liquid Aminos
Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.

Avocado sauce

1 large ripe avocado
1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut milk or cream
1 tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tsp rice vinegar
Mix all in a blender, add enough coconut milk or cream until smooth and creamy.

*Bragg Liquid Aminos is an alternative to tamari or soy sauce, and is available from health shops.