JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE

What Is Jerusalem Artichoke or Sunchoke? What Does Artichoke Taste Like?

Jerusalem Artichoke is an edible tuber that is a species of the sunflower plant generally grown underground. These tubers are just like a potato; sweet, versatile and root vegetables that are built underground.

Contrary to its name, Jerusalem Artichoke is nowhere related to Jerusalem nor does it have anything to do with Artichokes. The name Jerusalem was derived from the Italian word for sunflower, i.e., Girasole. And is, therefore, a class of sunflower native that grows underground in eastern North America far from its so-called name’s country.

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Likewise, apart from its name, Jerusalem artichokes are nothing like artichokes. They may have a hint of its tastes, but on the whole, they are two completely different vegetables.

The ginger-like tubers commonly go by other names such as sunroot, topinambur, earth apple and are most popularly called Sunchoke. It is further referred to as Helianthus tuberosus in scientific terms.

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What Does Jerusalem Artichoke Look Like?

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE COLORS
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE COLORS

Sunchokes or Jerusalem artichoke’s appearance are a combination of two vegetables- a potato and ginger. It looks a lot like ginger; it’s a hairy, elongated, lumpy and crisp vegetable in conjunction with a crunchy yet coarse texture.

Moreover, it widely varies in its skin color from dirt brown or gingers brown to white, red and purple. And consists of a white smooth textured fleshy flesh underneath it.

What Does Jerusalem Artichoke Taste like?

Although, appearance wise it gives an undesirable impression. And may seem uneatable, but that’s not the case.

Sunchokes taste quite like sweetened potatoes with a smidgen of artichoke flavor. The inner white flesh of this ginger-like tuber is sweet yet crunchy and nutty.

You can eat it along with the skin. However, it is more often suggested to eat it after peeling the skin. Keeping it peeled and out in the open for too long may lead to its tarnishing. So, make sure its acidulated when left out for a more extended period.

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Harvesting Period:

SUNCHOKE PLANTS
SUNCHOKE PLANTS

The harvesting period of these tubers is from late-October to March. Sunchokes are extremely easy to cultivate since they are a perennial vegetable. They require the least attention owing to their self-growing characteristics. Thus, farmers do not intervene in its growth and let it grow on its own. During a year, one root could lead to the growth of about 75-200 tubers at the height of 5-10 feet; that’s even taller than the sunflower plants.

Storing Method:

It is essential to ensure its storage in a cold and dark place for it to remain fresh and safe to eat for a relatively longer duration. Storing it in such areas would aid for it to last for up to 10 days. The vegetable drawer in your fridge, for example, serves as the best form of storage for sunchokes.

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Nutritional content:

The sunchokes have good nutritional content. Below is a list of the nutritional value Jerusalem Artichokes hold (per 100 g):

  • Calories 73
  • Carbohydrates 17 g
  • Fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sugar 10 g
  • Dietary fiber 1.6 g
  • Protein 2 g
  • Thiamin 17%
  • Calcium 1%
  • Iron 18%
  • Sodium 4 mg
  • Potassium 429 mg
  • Vitamin C 6%
  • Vitamin B6 5%
  • Magnesium 4%
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin D 0%

It consists of a slight amount of starch content and has no oil. It’s a fat-free, protein vegetable that produces high inulin carbohydrates. The inulin level depends on its region of growth. In warmer regions, the inulin level is lesser compared to in tropical regions.

Health Benefits:

  • Jerusalem Artichokes are a traditional medicine (i.e., as per the olden times; been passed over generations) for diabetes.
  • They are a great source of electrolytes and minerals like iron and potassium.
  • They are further inclusive of Vitamins such as folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, etc. which protect against a viral cough and cold and cancer.
  • The sunchoke leaves and stem contain 28% protein, which is double the amount in corn.
  • It holds dietary fiber that protects against colon cancer by removing toxic compounds in our gut.
  • Adequate consumption of it helps solve constipation problems.

Health Issues:

A primary set back of these tubers is its inulin content. Sunchokes are known to be high in inulin, a form of carbohydrate that causes specific side effects. Although good for certain people for specific reasons, it may lead to gas, bloating and other indigestion issues for others. This is mainly because inulin does not facilitate easy digestion and may get tough especially to those who have been introduced to it for the first time.

Overeating of sunchokes may correspondingly result in an upset stomach. Similarly consumption of raw sunchokes, for example, in salads. However, the inulin amount may differ from sunroot to sunroot.

Besides, the side effects depend on a human being’s tolerance level and immunity. People with low tolerance level will fall sick with just a few bites of the tuber whereas people with high tolerance level could consume it way more than the others without falling sick.

How to Eat It?

With its striking similarities with a potato, Jerusalem artichokes are described as versatile vegetables, just like the potatoes. If in case you’re confused as to how to eat it, treat it like you would treat a potato or a parsnip.

Few such examples of cooking the Jerusalem Artichoke are:

  • Tossing them raw in your salad and topping it with some olive oil,
  • Deep frying them to make crispy Sunchoke chips and adding some chili to spice it up,
  • Roasting chunks of them and serving it alongside turkeys and grilled chicken,
  • Adding them to your soup or pasta and risottos,
  • Having mashed sunchokes, or just boiling them or cooking them, or frying them, or roasting them.

There are plenty of ways of serving Jerusalem Artichokes, put your thoughts to it, and you might as well create something new of your own.

SUNROOT

TIPS:

  1. While you’re at a store buying sunchokes, always prefer to buy the ones that are less knobbly and coarse. This will make its peeling and cooking easy for you!
  2. Purchase the firm, clean and smooth Jerusalem Artichokes and avoid the sprouted or diseased ones and the ones that are not firm enough.
  3. Do not overcook sunchokes! Else they turn soppy or mushy.
  4. Limit your consumption, as sunchokes exhibit its side effects quicker than anticipated.

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