Eating our way through a thicket of Jerusalem artichokes

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Jerusalem Artichoke Flowers by Claude Monet

Along the boundary fence with our neighbours we have a thick line of jerusalem artichokes, interspersed between coppiced hazel bushes. The artichokes grow up to about 8 foot in our garden and occasionally they flower, with sunflower-like yellow heads, if September is really sunny and warm. I know that elsewhere they grow vigorously and flower reliably, making a great cut flower (see Christina’s In-a-vase post). Our jerusalem artichokes were planted so long ago that I really don’t remember how we came by them. I don’t think that I bought them, so they were probably a swap or division and once you have a patch of these vegetables, you will always have a patch. Then you can share them too. In fact, if jerusalem artichokes like their environment you may need to apply containment or reduction measures. With our heavy clay soil and (usually) dry summers, we are in the happy situation that whilst they always come back after cropping, they don’t spread much at all.

On the other hand our sticky clay soil makes harvesting them in winter a messy task and with the ground being so sodden of late I haven’t even tried to dig any up this season until now. But time is getting on, Christmas is behind us and I really fancied eating some this week. So on Sunday I dug some up:

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Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) fresh from the garden. See what I mean about the clay!

Once they were cleaned up, they didn’t look so bad:

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Cleaned up tubers of jerusalem artichoke

Since this was the first serving of the year, I wanted to enjoy their unadulterated crunchy, nutty taste, so I simply boiled them in their skins for about 15-20 minutes, until soft, and served them with a choice of dipping sauces – hollandaise, a balsamic vinagrette, a little butter …

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Cooked jeruslaem artichoke tubers served simply with hollandaise sauce

Typically we don’t eat the skins, after all the best bit is the soft inner flesh that tastes rather like a cross between water chestnuts and globe artichokes. I have found that it is easiest to peel the tubers after they are cooked, not before. By splitting them down the middle, it becomes a straightforward matter of easing the outsides away from the white flesh. I have read that a carbohydrate called inulin is concentrated in the tubers, particularly in the skin, and since inulin is not easily digest in the gut (and can cause flatulence), peeling the skins away seems like a great idea. Alys Fowler, writing in the Guardian newpaper, has an interesting acclimatisation approach to this problem.

Anyhow, our first dish of jerusalem artichokes was delicious and now I am inspired to try out a whole load of other recipes and ways of preparing them. For instance, today I sautéed some with banana shallots in a cross between a Jamie Oliver recipe and a Bon Appetit recipe. This was tasty, especially served warm with thin slices of seedy wholemeal bread.

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Enter a caption

If you don’t have you own tubers to try, then most of the main supermarkets seem to being selling them in small quantities now. If it turns out that you like them them and you want to start growing your own, then it is easy to get hold of varieties like ‘Fuseau’ or a red-skinned french variety called ‘Gerard’ from suppliers like Thompson and Morgan. (Sometimes jerusalem artichoke are referred to as ‘sunchokes’ or ‘sunroots’)

Enjoy!

 

 

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About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Food, Nature, Plants, Recipes, The home garden and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Eating our way through a thicket of Jerusalem artichokes

  1. I’m a big fan of Jerusalem artichokes, but they would certainly take over in our tiny, well drained vegetable plot. I shall enjoy them vicariously through you 🙂

  2. Chloris says:

    I do like them but I rather wish I had never planted any, they have taken over my raspberry canes, my black and red currants and they are making their way to my strawberries. However much I dig them up, they flourish. It’ s always good to find more recipes for them.

  3. lyart says:

    Here in Germany, they are called Topinambur and have become quite fashionable in kitchens these days. Will try and grow some next year.

  4. Christina says:

    Thanks for the link; I don’t have a problem with them taking over either, in fact in our exceeding hot summer last year they didn’t even flower as well as the preceding year. I haven’t dug any up yet either, I’m not have fond of them although my husband loves them so I suppose I should follow your lead.

  5. I have a friend who makes pickles out of them. They’re very good with cooked greens.

  6. anisakazemi says:

    Love them!! I turned them into chips!

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