Gnarly Chokes

By / Photography By Amy Zambonin | October 08, 2017
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What are they?” is what you will most likely hear when you show someone a Jerusalem artichoke.

Jerusalem artichokes suffer an identity crisis of sorts. A misnomer, they are neither from Jerusalem, nor are they an artichoke. Also known as earth apples, sunroot, and perhaps most commonly, sunchokes, these knobby, lumpy tubers of the sunflower plant (Helianthus tuberosus) are native to North America’s east coast. While the outside of the root is reminiscent of ginger or turmeric, the inside, while lacking starch, is sweet and creamy, making it excellent for purées and soups. Sunchokes also make a wonderful addition to a platter of roasted vegetables with fresh sage and thyme or thinly shaved and fried into chips with a good pinch of sea salt.

Unlike other tubers, the sunchoke is full of carbohydrate inulin, a compound of fructose, that gives it a natural sweetness, but doesn’t spike blood sugars. That's good news, but be warned — the inulin is not easily broken down in our digestive system, so much of the job is left to bacteria in the colon, which can cause flatulence.

Growing sunchokes is relatively easy as they require little attention and like many other tubers, only a small piece of the root in the soil is required to start a new plant. While this is easy propagation, if left on their own, these sunflowers can take over a garden in no time.

Harvested from late summer until early winter, sunchokes can be a weird and wonderful addition to many of your regular autumn comfort dishes. Try this simple recipe for sunchoke purée to get you started.

2 cups parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 cups sunchokes, washed and chopped
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1 tablespoon butter
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Place parsnips and sunchokes in a medium-sized pot of water, add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the vegetables until tender. Drain excess water and place into a food processor. Process with the crème fraîche until smooth then push the purée through a sieve back into a pot. Add butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the pot back onto the heat until the butter is melted and purée is reduced to your desired consistency.

Article from Edible Ottawa at
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