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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jerusalem artichokes

Growing our own food is one way we can help keep our food bill down and still stockpile for future needs. While having a traditional garden is certainly a great idea, there are lots of edible wild plants growing in your backyard right now. One of these plants is the Jerusalem artichoke which is otherwise known as the sunchoke.

Jerusalem artichokes grow from tubers underground and spread each year. Not only are they a pretty flower, they can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled or made into a flour. They can be dehydrated and stored for a long period of time.

Tubers sprout about 14 days after they are planted provided the soil temperature is about 44 degrees. They are very vigorous and compete well with weeds. They over winter well. I don't recommend planting these in your traditional vegetable garden for these reasons however tossing a few of them at the edge of your property or allowing them to be a centerpiece in your flower garden is a great idea.

The tubers are harvested in the fall. Make sure that you do not dig them all up or you will have no crop for next year. Dig up the tubers you want to eat and scrub them well with a vegetable brush like you would potatoes or carrots you just dug up.

Here is a recipe to get you started but I am sure you can find many more by searching online. They can be used much like potatoes can although they taste more similar to a turnip.

Mashed potatoes with Jerusalem artichoke & chives

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Fill large pot half full with cold water; add lemon juice. Peel artichokes, cut into 1-inch pieces and add to pot. Bring to boil. Cover and boil until artichokes are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Return artichokes to pot. Add potatoes, salt, and enough water to cover vegetables; bring to boil. Cover and boil until potatoes and artichokes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain. Return vegetables to pot; set over low heat. Add sour cream and butter. Mash until mixture is almost smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.) Stir in chives. Transfer to bowl and serve.

This is a great addition to your yard because your average person isn't going to recognize a Jerusalem artichoke as "dinner" so even if you have someone raiding your vegetable garden, chances are your chokes will be safe.


Compostwoman said...

Just be aware they can have an unfortunate effect on the lower digestive tract...basically, they make you fart!

I have had to give up on them as they make me actually quite ill, much worse than mere farts...which is a shame as they are a really prolific crop and they do taste good...( but make me quite unwell, so I am growing other stuff in their space!)

Confessions of an Overworked Mom said...

Thanks, Compostwoman! I will remember that!

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