Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sunchoke / Jerusalem Artichoke - What the Heck!?

OK - lets get something squared away right now.

What is a Sunchoke / Jerusalem Artichoke?
What does it have to do with Artichokes?
And should I end up with one, what the HECK do I do with it?

This is the specimen.

It looks like an extra lumpy potato.  Or ginger with problems.
It actually is the tuber of a variety of sunflower, Helianthus tuberosus (here's more on that if you care: "Wikipedia Says").  That's where the "Sun" comes in.

As for the "choke" or "Artichoke"?  That refers to the mysterious sweet taste that the tuber develops when it is roasted

Like this:
Yummy - peeled and roasted with potatoes.
For taste - the cooked sunchoke tastes a dead ringer for artichoke heart.  

Last of all - WHAT is up with the "Jerusalem" part?  Well, that has to do with the American ability to turn a weird word into another weird word they like better.  In this case - "girasole" or Italian for Sunflower appears to have been morphed into Jerusalem.

Sunchoke can be eaten raw but needs to be peeled and sliced quite thin.  It should also be eaten in combination with other vegetables - not too much at a time as it's carbohydrates are stored as inulin (not to be confused with insulin) which is a fiber that humans cannot digest, but our gut bacteria go to town on.  So too much sunchoke is like too many beans.  With musical results.

This is a crop best left to the experts as these little tubers are voracious growers and can take over a yard.

So don't be afraid of them - I'd even go so far as experiment with using them in place of artichoke hearts - but use restraint.  And have fun.

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