Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sunchokes: Jerusalem Artichokes, growing and eating them

Sunchokes: Jerusalem Artichokes, growing and eating them.
image credit urban artichoke. com

it is now late spring and the Jerusalem artichokes are poking out from under late snows, the old mulch has melted into fertile cover and keeps weeds from showing up. I am still eating some of the roots, plants are ready for summer shade and shine..they look so perky in yellow crowns on my kitchen table.

Just as a child with a sunny disposition can bring joy in the house, the sunchoke plant is a source of moments of happiness in the garden. From spring buds to tall spikes blooming bright yellow above one's head, there are many stages and uses for this humble vegetable. Easy to plant and to nurture; no fuss, or fertilizer, add a little neglect, some water by its feet in dry summer makes the morning happy offers nutritional benefits as well as sheltering properties.

Plant against a wall and find the temperatures drop within the dwelling. Put a few tubers 4 inches into any well drained soil and reap a free crop, sunchokes are prolific. A perennial resurgence of this abundant food source makes it convenient as bean stalks or permaculture favorite. A few small tubers in winter or spring in a sad corner and a fiesta of small sunflower heads by August. To hide compost bins, to soften the wind on prized flowers. Harvest by October onward, the tubers stay underground under 2-4 inches of any mulch all winter-long; a fresh meal at the ready, lift mulch, dig out tubers, leave the rest under leaves, straw, coffee grounds and eggshells for later.

Cooking sunchokes is like preparing potatoes: clean with brush and running water, boil till tender(approx 15 minutes) water will turn a bluish-green color.
Baking is tastier as flavors are concentrated, put them in roasting pan, spray with a little olive oil, add sea salt. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 375 That's all. Carrots and celery make great roasting companions for the small tubers.

Mashed sunchokes are tender treats, depending on texture preferences, you may wish to use a blender on small burst of pulse, till peels have disappeared add a beaten egg and dash of milk and sourcream the creamy substance. Again carrots and parsnips make great additives to this dish. Sprinkle with parmesan, or gruyere, parsley flakes, turmeric and garlic powder.

There is a hint of fennel subliminal aroma to the sunchoke, close your eyes and search for the food memory bank to sort out this delicate perfume, is it licorice? Is it celery like? The unique savor is intriguing especially when stir-fried with other root vegetables. Add a dash of soya sauce or sesame oil.
image credit urban
I must add that topinambours or topines as these are called in France are not always welcome to the table; the farm wife next door explained to us that they had eaten so many of them during the war, she never wanted them to come inside her kitchen—in any form- not even in a bouquet. “ non merci! These are for the rabbits”.

I like rabbit food, so I appreciate such delicacies as a salad of grated sunchokes with dressing of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard , wine vinegar and grape-seed oil. Sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve alone or add to tuna salad, potato salad or green salad, it tastes nutty and crunchy.

For a quick snack, slice sunchokes thinly, and make a dip out of sourcream, crushed bean or humus, green onion, parsley leaves and celery leaves chopped very small. Sea salt and pepper, perhaps some curry spice or garlic powder if preferred.

The tubers hold anti-diabetic properties as they contain inulin ( not insulin) the digestive qualities of this root vegetable make it a must for the table of the conscious gourmet, it is economic to grow; why not plant just a few in a sunny location or partial shade and watch it thrive. will take you to delectable imagery, the word sunchokes evokes many a dish and myriad blooms of heliantis, the sun flower. 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful article, Nadine! We grow JA's every year, as a matter of variety and the fact they can stay in the ground all winter. Thank you for the creative recipes! Well done!