Jerusalem artichokes aren’t artichokes nor are they from Jerusalem. They are also called sunchokes, which sounds something like an unfortunate cosmic event to me. We grew them this year and I have only great things to say about them.
I ordered organic tubers from Peaceful Valley in California. By the way, all of the strawberries and rhubarb that I had ordered from them were inexpensive and yet of prime quality. The tubers grew into tall, sunflower-like plants that graced an area of the new kitchen garden that didn’t have the best soil in it.
They flowered most of the summer and just this month – October – began to die off. The plants had some difficulty with lace bugs, but with good soil fertility and some actively aerated compost tea foliar spray they rallied exceptionally.
Today, for our Halloween lunch, we thought some creepy-looking tubers would be appropriate. They share a basket with Black Beauty zucchinis (caught them small!) and our first sweet potato of the year, Spanish Red Improved, which we also steamed and ate – heaven!
The ‘chokes are supposed to sweeten up after a frost, but here in San Diego county that might take awhile.
The chokes grow tubers all around the base of the plant, and also spread them underground. They are very easy to harvest; the plant wants the tubers to make new plants so they break off easily.
Although they are knotty, they wash off easily and the skin is thin and mostly easily removed with a vegetable peeler. I didn’t scrape all of it off and it wasn’t bitter or unpleasant at all. I roasted them after just washing them with a vegetable brush and the skins were a little firm and the insides very soft. There wasn’t any unpleasant taste.
Steamed, the JAs become very soft and – by gosh! – taste very similar to soft, buttery artichoke heart! Wonderful! My daughter and I ate them down with a little vegan butter . So wonderfully good. They can be easily mashed as well. We also roasted them along with other vegetables.
I mix all the veggies in olive oil with dried rosemary, minced fresh garlic and pepper, spread out on a tray and roast at 425F for about an hour, depending upon the size and thickness of the veggies. Roasting keeps them more solid yet tender, and sharpens their flavor a little. Absolutely fantastic.
I’m saving small tubers to plant ALL OVER THE YARD! What a great perennial vegetable – perennial in that you leave some tubers in the ground and they keep coming up every year. They are attractive, give shade to smaller plants, are great for attracting pollinators, create good mulch when the tops have died down, and have wonderful tubers. The tubers may be eaten raw as well; they are crisp and mild.
If you have a corner for some tall flowers, definitely try growing some organic Jerusalem artichokes. Yum.