What are Jerusalem artichokes and how do you cook with them?


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Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, can be prepared in ways similar to a fingerling potato.

Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are the tuber of a North American species of sunflower. They are small, knobby roots with thin reddish-brown skin and are in season late fall through winter.

They can be prepared in ways similar to a fingerling potato — boil, steam, roast or sauté. They also can be shaved thin and eaten raw. The skin is edible, but you may choose to peel it off. They are very low in starch and have a sweet, slightly nutty flavor reminiscent of artichokes.

Simply scrub well and trim off any knobby or damaged parts. Peel if desired.


Health benefits of Jerusalem artichoke

  • Jerusalem artichoke is moderately high in calories; provides about 73 calories per 100 g, roughly equivalent to that of potatoes. The root has negligible amounts of fat and contains zero cholesterol. Nevertheless, it's high-quality phyto-nutrition profile comprises of dietary fiber (non-starch carbohydrates), and antioxidants, in addition to small proportions of minerals, and vitamins.

  • It is one of the finest sources of dietary fibers, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin, which is a soluble non-starch polysaccharide. Inulin should not be confused for insulin, which is a hormone. The root provides 1.6 mg or 4% of fiber. Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine and inert carbohydrate which does not undergo metabolism inside the human body, and thereby; make this tuber an ideal sweetener in diabetics and dietetics.

  • Soluble as well as insoluble fibers in this tuber add up to the bulk of food by retaining moisture in the gut. Studies suggest that adequate roughage in the diet helps reduce constipation problems. Dietary Fibers also offer some protection against colon cancers by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.

  • The tuber contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E. These vitamins, together with flavonoid compound like carotenes, helps scavenge harmful free radicals, and thereby offers protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.

  • Further, Jerusalem artichokes are a very good source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, and copper. 100 g of fresh root holds 429 mg or 9% of daily-required levels of potassium. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte which brings reduction in the blood pressure and heart rate by countering pressing effects of sodium.

  • 100 g of fresh sunchoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of iron for the common edible roots and tubers.
  • It also contains small levels of some of valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Jerusalem artichokes are native to the central America. The plant is technically an evergreen perennial, but cultivated as annual crop. Once established, it grows vigorously with multiple branches, reaching about 5-10 feet height, slightly taller than sunflower plant, and carries many golden-yellow flower heads at the terminal end of branches.

The plant bears numerous starchy edible rhizomes, firmly attached to stem underneath the ground surface. Jerusalem tubers feature grey, purple, or pink skin externally, and sweet delicate textured ice-white flesh inside. Some roots have quite bumpy and extremely knobby outer surface, making their cleaning a tougher task. Each tuber weighs about 75 to 200 g.

Jerusalem artichoke is a bumpy, fleshy, root vegetable of sunflower family plants. Its underground nutty, flavorful, starch-rich root is eaten much the same way like potato in many parts of Western Europe and Mediterranean regions.

It should not be confused to globe artichoke, which is an edible flower bud. Similarly, their name is widely misunderstood as “artichokes from Jerusalem” misinterpreted for the Italian girasole articiocco, translating to sunflower artichoke in English. Some of the common names are sunroot, sunchoke, topinambour etc. Scientific name: Helianthus tuberosus.

RECIPES FOR SUNCHOKES:

Roasted Sunchoke and Kale Soup with Bacon

Sunchoke Soup with Parsley Coulis

Fried Sunchoke Chips with Rosemary Salt

Roasted Sunchokes

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by Anna Thomas Bates / via JSOnline

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