Sunchokes

Jerusalem artichoke

After recent bitter cold and gray cloudy days, today the cloud cover began breaking up.  I took advantage of the warmer temperature and journeyed out to the vegetable garden beds.  I weeded a few and it felt great to have my hands in the dirt — even if it was cold dirt.

Next I visited the bed of Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes, scientific name of Helianthus tuberosus).  Last year a friend gave me a chunk of Sunchokes with dried stalks sticking up.  I had broken the clump apart and planted the pieces in the ground — not knowing what to expect from this experiment as I’ve never grown them before.

Jerusalem artichokeThis past spring leaves sprouted and then the stalks grew and grew and grew until they were over eight feet tall.  And they bloomed with incredible “sun” flowers.

Jerusalem artichokeSomewhere I read that it was best to let the first year’s growth of Sunchokes be and not harvest them until the second and subsequent years (kind of like asparagus).  Well, here I was today with dried eight-foot (plus) tall stalks leaning every which way from the latest wind storm.  I decided to break them off near the ground and “tidy up” the bed a bit.  To my surprise, when I attempted to break off the first stalk, it came up from the ground instead and brought with it a group of very large and beautiful Sunchokes.

I re-planted one of the Sunchoke tubers and felt ever so grateful for the unexpected harvest of a large handful of Sunchokes.  Since I wasn’t sure of the “best” way to prepare them, I sliced them thinly, ate a few raw (nice crunch and mild taste) and cooked the remainder in a bit of olive oil with some salt thrown in.  The cooked Sunchokes were delicious as this softened them nicely and brought out some of their sugars.  I ate them all before I thought to take a photo of them.  Next time I’ll take some photos first . . .

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