Eating your Harvest: Sunchokes

Bug Shot in Westboro
Creative Commons License photo credit: m.gifford

One of my favorite fall crops is sunchokes (also known as jerusalem artichokes). The plants are tall with small sunflower like flowers. The part people eat are the tubers, which look a bit like iris or ginger tubers, sort of knobby and white. I use to grow sunchokes when I was gardening in Southern Ohio, but haven’t had a chance to plant any since then. They are native to North America and perennial, so are super easy to grow.

The problem with sunchokes is that they can be invasive, since they spread by growing new tubers. Even if you dig them out in the fall it’s very difficult to get every single piece of root, so you need to be careful about where you plant them.

Ideally, if you have a sunny back fence or narrow side yard where they will be out of the way they will continue to provide you food year after year with little to no effort on your part. Generally you dig the tubers once the tops have started to die back and the weather has gotten cool. The tubers can then be washed and stored in the fridge. If I was digging my own I would pick out the less knobby ones to eat and replant the rest since you are going to have to peel them.

jerusalem artichoke
Creative Commons License photo credit: cuttlefish

Last week I bought some sunchoke tubers from the local farmers market because I don’t have a place of my own to plant them. Tonight we made a delicious sunchoke mash out of them as an alternative to mashed potatoes. Sunchokes have a lot of inulin (a type of fiber)  in them and I believe are better for diabetics (and other folks who need to watch their blood sugar) than potatoes.  Like a lot of healthy vegetables, sunchokes can produce gas when being digested, so be warned. (I haven’t noticed a problem, but everyone is different.)

Sunchoke Mash

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Sunchokes (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 Tbls butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • (or substitute a spoonful of Better Than Bouillon for salt and butter)

Steam the sunchokes for about 15 minutes until tender when poked with a fork. Dump in a food processor with the butter and salt and process until smooth. Alternately you could mash them by hand.

Yum! They do taste a bit like an artichoke I think.

4 thoughts on “Eating your Harvest: Sunchokes

  1. Kim

    I’m growing them for the first time this year and am excited to try them. I bought 4 tubers from a health food store (they were meant for eating) since I the local greenhouses don’t carry them. My husband laughed when I bought them to plant. They are now several feet taller than our home and in bloom. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. @stampylisa

    we had some planted last year, which only got about a foot high. this year, they are supertall, but i haven’t seen flowers, I heard to dig them after first light frost. is that true?

  3. GardenGrrrl

    I believe that digging them after the frost results in tastier bulbs. Also, by waiting, you will give them time to grow as big as possible. Stamylisa, where are you gardening? I’m surprised you haven’t seen any flowers in two years. Do you have a short growing season? Or are they being shaded by something? Stop back in and tell me how the harvest went!

  4. bakingbarb

    I planted sunchokes this spring from tubers I bought at a farmers market. So excited they are growing and quite tall but as of today there are no flowers – I assume our growing season in the PNW is too short and possibly not hot enough for them to flower. I will leave them in the ground as along as possible in hopes of flowers and of course that frost sweetening affect.

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