The Jerusalem artichoke has no connection with Jerusalem nor is it related to other artichokes. They originated from North America and are a member of the sunflower family producing edible tubers. It is high in dietary fibre and a good source of iron, vitamins and minerals with a delicious sweet nutty flavour. If you hunt hard enough you can find them in some supermarkets but you are more likely to find them in specialist vegetable boxes. They are a Winter vegetable and are in season from the end of October.
You can cook the Jerusalem artichoke just like the humble potato – roasted, boiled, steamed, sauteed or made into soup. The list is endless. To tickle your taste buds, one of my favourite Jerusalem artichoke recipes is by Nigel Slater. Simply roasted in the oven with lemon and herbs Nigel Slater’s Winter Roots and Lemon.
Jerusalem artichokes are easy to grow. We have been growing them for a few years. They are a hardy plant and grow tall with unmistakeable yellow sunflower type flowers. You don’t need an allotment or vegetable patch to grow them, close to a wall or fence will do or you could even plant them in a tub.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of downsides to Jerusalem artichokes. The first is that once you’ve planted them they are there forever! You will never find all the tubers at harvest time. For years to come they will germinated and grow. Secondly, the Jerusalem artichoke has been nicknamed “the fartichoke”. The tubers contain inulin which is a type of starch and can’t be digested properly by the human digestive system, giving you flatulence. Hence the nickname “fartichoke”. It doesn’t happen to everyone, approximately one in five people can’t digest Jerusalem artichokes.
Go on give them a go! The Jerusalem artichoke really is the plant that keeps on giving!