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Jerusalem Artichokes

November 7th, 2011

I purchased these Jerusalem Artichokes last year at the farmer’s market and they got pushed to the back of my fridge. I was actually going to plant them last fall and completely forgot. When I finally saw them in the fridge it was mid-winter. Then I forgot about them again until a month or so ago when my mom and I were talking about them. I got them out of the fridge figured they would never sprout or grow, so I was going to throw them in the compost. I figured I’d let them sit on the counter for a few days to see what would happen. Low and behold, they started to sprout roots and green shoots.

I haven’t planted them in the garden yet because I need to find the perfect spot. Planting them in a raised bed in the back would be a good ideas, I hear they can become invasive. This is a completely new plant for me (although I have something growing along the edge of the woods that looks very similar and I must dig some up to see if they have tubers). From what I read they’re kind of like a potato, but slightly sweeter and nuttier. Some people eat them raw, some people steam them like potatoes. The history of the Jerusalem Artichoke, or Sunchoke as it’s also called, is quite fascinating (here’s an interesting link). Since it’s a native wild vegetable to North America, I really want to include it in my garden.

I’d like to spend some time researching how the Indians prepared them and try to use their methods. It certainly would be a great history lesson for kids to grow and eat these. They would pair well with a lesson on the Native American Indians who cultivate them or Lewis and Clark since they used them for sustenance on their long journey.

Do you grow Sunchokes? Have you ever eaten them? Any tips for me? Do you grow any other unusual vegetables?

27 Comments to “Jerusalem Artichokes”
  1. KimH on November 7, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Nope.. I’ve eaten them, but never grown them. I’ve always tried to find them in the wild since they’re supposed to be prolific in N Tex but I’ve never positively ID’d them. I think I might be happy this would be an invasive plant.. course, it’d need its own corner or bed, like the mints..

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  2. tj on November 7, 2011 at 7:38 am

    …I have never grown them or eaten them either for that matter but I would like to try my hand at them. I like your idea about learning the ways of the native American Indian in regards to their cultivating and cooking these, that would be interesting. :o)

    …Thank you for admitting that you kept forgetting about these in your frig’, it’s comforting to know others out there do that too. *sigh* ;o)

    …Blessings
    tj´s last post ..I need your opinion please.

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    • Susy on November 7, 2011 at 7:46 am

      Yes, when your fridge is filled with various jars of fermented pickles and the like it can be tough to see what’s in the back sometimes.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Jessica on November 7, 2011 at 7:59 am

    My husband and I put them in beef stews like potatoes. They’re delicious, and I love their texture. Creamier than a potato when cooked.

    Unfortunately, the local farm that used to sell them is no longer at our farmers’ market. I’ve thought about trying to grow some myself, but haven’t done so yet.

    Reply to Jessica's comment

  4. daisy on November 7, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Talk about a green thumb! You’ve got stuff sprouting on the counter with no effort!
    Never eaten or grown these, but they look very interesting!
    daisy´s last post ..Penne for Your Thoughts

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  5. Brittany P. on November 7, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I have never grown them but have been considering it lately as well as asparagus. I would like to add some veggies that come back each year without much fuss and I have heard these two fit the bill.

    I noticed the side bar about what you are reading and was tickled to see Mother Earth News, one of my favorite mags of all time and the book by Nigel Slater.. I so want his new Tender books I and II. I am such a book nerd. ;o) I ordered the new wiser living series and grit set of 8 issues that Mother Earth News is offering 2 weeks ago and I LOVE THEM so far. Full of great info. Then I went thrifting this weekend and found some Mother back issues for 25 cents each.. so cool.. grabbed them all. I also found a totally awesome spoon ring at an antiques store, had to get it! I had one when I was a girl but I have no idea what happened to it. Love thrifting and gardening and reading … and your blog!

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  6. Daedre Craig on November 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I’ve never grown them or eaten them, but I hear the flowers are pretty. They look like heliopsis or sunflower.
    Daedre Craig´s last post ..Green Heart Daikon Radish

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  7. Teresa on November 7, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I have them growing in a raised bed in our garden. They are tasty and have a slightly nutty flavor. They are very invasive a least in here in Oklahoma. Mine have grown as tall as 8 ft. and they have small sunflower looking flowers.

    If you plant them fairly close together they make a great screen. Some of the roots I have dug up have been as big as soft balls. I was told to dig them in winter because their taste is much better at that time.

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  8. Ghislaine on November 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I have grown them. They are incredibly easy to grow and I find them rather tasty, like a nutty potato. I like them best prepared like home fries. I’ve never had frost-kissed ones though, because I live in coastal SoCal. I have to warn you though, they can make you very gassy. I was reading recently about a CSA that had had members requesting no sunchokes in their box because it was too much of a problem for them…

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    • Susy on November 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

      I have heard about the gas problem, I bet including some probiotics alongside them would greatly help with that problem. I remember reading about Lewis & Clark having problems with that when eating them during their travels.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Miranda on November 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm

        Yep: definitely gas enducing. I’m out of homemade yogurt too – so i’m sure that’s not helping. Not a good side dish when hosting company, ay? hehehe
        Miranda´s last post ..It’s Time for Handmade Holiday Projects

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  9. Donna B. on November 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Maybe roasted like a potato also? Sunchoke Chips! hee hee!
    I keep seeing these and wondering if I should make the plunge and try em’ out… My potato harvests always seem to falter, so maybe this is an easier substitute?
    @ Ghislaine: well, oh my! Gassy? Haha! I thought broccoli was bad – this might be a fun plant to eat!

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  10. risa on November 7, 2011 at 11:15 am

    We use them as a border and windbreak, at the street end of the garden. People ask if we eat them. “Well, we’ve been known to, but we never run out of spuds, which we like better, so they are our survival food.” The idea is if we ever need them they are there, so we encourage them in our landscape accordingly. Lawnmower helps with the invasiveness thingy. It’s a huge patch, begun with just a handful.

    At upper left across back of garden:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vkh2ygNTeZM/TjxHsyzFTQI/AAAAAAAADto/666nSZvXCsE/s1600/005.JPG
    risa´s last post ..Everywhere at once

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  11. goatpod2 on November 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

    We’ve planted Jerusalem artichokes here several years ago but we’ve never eaten them, we planted them for our goats and the seem to enjoy them very much!

    Amy
    goatpod2´s last post ..That’s My Answer!

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  12. Marianne on November 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Please do be careful with where you plant them, as they will spread. I’ve heard of folks planting them, then desperately trying to get rid of them when they are taking over the space.

    They are delicious – here is some information from a CSA farm:
    http://www.harmonyvalleyfarm.com/recipes/sunchoke.pdf

    Reply to Marianne's comment

  13. Katherine on November 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    My parents grew them when I was a kid, about 30 years ago. We used to eat them in place of potatoes in a potato salad. They were good, sort of potato crossed with water chestnut. Zone 7 – they grew them for a few years and then had a few stragglers after that, but they didn’t take over the garden.

    Reply to Katherine's comment

  14. Miranda on November 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Interesting… saving a few to plant is a good idea. My hubs brought home a ton of these after we cooked them once and liked them. I got a little bit sunchoke-overkilled, but he really loves them. We’ve tried them stir fried and roasted, both with the skin on. Raw, they taste kind of like water chestnuts. Cooked, they get super creamy and are nutty tasting as you said. I like them, and would love to see them growing since they supposedly look a lot like sunflowers. Maybe i’ll shove one to the back of MY fridge and plant it next year. :)
    Miranda´s last post ..It’s Time for Handmade Holiday Projects

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  15. Jennifer on November 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I spoke with Joseph of Swainway Farm in Columbus just last week about growing them in Ohio. He advising planting in the fall, about 6-12 inches apart for each tuber and did advise that they will come back but didn’t suggest they would be “invasive” – I purchased some gorgeous suncokes from him – the skin was so light they don’t need to be peeled. I enjoy them roasted but it is best to parboil them first!

    Reply to Jennifer's comment

  16. Citysister on November 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I’ve had some really good grain free sunchoke pasta…it was delectable almost like a gnocchi type flavor, but in fettuccine form.
    Citysister´s last post ..I thought of my sister today when…

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  17. nic@nipitinthebud on November 7, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    choose your artichoke bed wisely as once sown you’ll never be without them. They’re amazingly resilient and we leave ours in over winter and harvest them around March time when there is nothing else to pick at the allotment and the new Spring shoots remind us that they are there.

    They’re nice thinly sliced in stir fries (have the texture of water chestnuts), stoved on the hob with a little stock, red wine and cheese or souped with mushrooms (which seems to be the most effective way of reducing the wind factor – although be careful what bread you eat with it or it has the opposite effect!)
    http://nipitinthebud.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/jerusalem-artichoke-and-porcini-mushroom-soup/
    nic@nipitinthebud´s last post ..wordless wednesday

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  18. warren on November 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    We used to grow these when I was a kid. We usually ate them raw, cut into slices. I loved them. They are good in fiber and tasty. My folks did nothing special to care for them which was very cool. My in-law grow them now as a decorative plants as it grows tall stalks with beautiful yellow flowers. Theirs might spread some but it has not taken over…
    warren´s last post ..8 feet is too much

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  19. brenda on November 9, 2011 at 2:47 am

    I’m an accidental sunchoke grower. Bought a box at the farmer’s market, ate most of them, then “lost” them in the crisper. They were black, kind of shriveled and moldy looking. For some reason, I buried them about 6 inches down instead of tossing on the compost pile. Harvested half a gallon, despite sorry soil. Thought I’d dug up every one, but six new plants came up the next year and had spread out.

    I just cut them in tiny cubes in salads (like carrots), so don’t eat a ton at one time. I believe they are an inulin containing food, which isn’t human food, but a feast for the good bacteria in your digestive tract.

    See this if you have time:
    http://simple-green-frugal-co-op.blogspot.com/2011/09/sunchokes.html

    brenda from arkansas

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  20. Jennifer Pack on November 9, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I had sunchokes planted down in TN this year. I’m not quite sure if they made it, but after reading all these comments I may have my brother check the plot!
    Jennifer Pack´s last post ..The Dark Days are Here

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  21. Greg on November 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    They have a VERY nutty flavor. I’ve always thought of them more like other root veggies like turnips than potatoes because of the crunchiness.

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  22. nic@nipitinthebud on November 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

    this article popped up in my reader today so I thought I’d share the link for Jerusalem Artichoke chutney
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2011/nov/09/jerusalem-artichoke-chutney-alys-fowler
    nic@nipitinthebud´s last post ..white chocolate heaven

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  23. Methyl on November 11, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Hi Suzy,
    I’ve grown these in Seattle successfully, and they have not been invasive. They are a gorgeous 8′ tall sunflower on sturdy stems. Please read up on the wikipedia entry (the etymology section is really interesting). Sunchokes are full of inulin instead of starch, so they’re good for diabetics. There are so many good ways to eat them (stir fry, chips, pickled, creamy mashed potatoes, soup, etc.) but be sure to take beano, or cook them with the mexican herb, epazote, to counteract the “windbreak” problem as @risa suggests :)

    Of most importance, the grocery store-bought tuber is the SAME variety as what you will find in a seed catalog, so don’t pay extra for shipping.

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  24. Jaclyn on December 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Hey there! I understand this is sort of off-topic however I needed to ask. Does managing a well-established blog like yours take a lot of work? I am brand new to writing a blog however I do write in my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!
    Jaclyn´s last post ..healthy living

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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