Food Plants - PerennialProcessing & Food Preservation

Jerusalem Artichokes – like Diamonds, are Forever

PIJ #54; March – May 1995; page 47

Margaret Lynch explains how to grow, store and prepare the edible section of what is a truly prolific plant.

Helianthus tuberosus is an annual which will tolerate most conditions. Commonly called Jerusalem artichoke, it is known in its native America as Sunroot. Other names include Sunchoke and Suntuber. It is not to be confused with the globe artichoke, Cynara scolymus, which is a thistle with edible flower-buds.

Suntuber foliage is said to be good fodder. Rapid growth makes it an excellent summer shade, screen, or windbreak. It may also have potential in paper-making. The plant produces a substance which inhibits growth in nearby plants, so don’t use the green foliage for mulch.

Plant tubers in early spring, choosing the spot carefully – you plant Suntubers for life! When you harvest them – last year I took four and a half large buckets from a patch one metre square – small ones will be overlooked and grow next year. Don’t put whole tubers in mulch or compost, and remove unwanted plants as they appear. In warm weather, plants will reach one to three metres in a few weeks. Water and feed in moderation. They will produce a crop even if totally neglected. The first cold snap kills the tops. Dig tubers as required. If you have to harvest them all at once, store them in moist sand in a cold place.

For Food: You can feed fresh tubers to pigs and goats, or finely chopped to poultry. As a human food, like many other food plants, they need careful preparation. Some people have no problem digesting them but they are a minority. Over 50 percent of their carbohydrate is in forms we don’t have enzymes to break down. Beans contain 10 to 15 percent of the same substances. These substances need to be leached or converted to make a digestible product.

Refrigerate or cold-store tubers for at least a month, then slice and boil in lots of water for 15 minutes, adding one tablespoon of lemon juice per 1200 mls after 10 minutes, or right at the start if you want crisp tubers. Drain, slip off peel, and pat dry. The slices can then be marinated, pickled, dehydrated, barbecued, roasted, deep-fried, made into soup, pureed and used in pies, cakes, or scones – use your favourite pumpkin recipes, but add less sugar.

If you have a solar cooker, slow combustion stove, crock pot, or are planning a hungi, cook whole tuber for 24 hours in a tightly closed container at 93’C (200’F). Season and serve, or slice and dry for a snack.

 

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23 Comments

  1. margaret,

    great article! very helpful as i’ve never grown sunchokes before. i plan to plant a patch this year. it’s really good to know how prone they are to break out. i’ll treat them like bamboo!

    =)

    thanks!

  2. HI just read this article on jerusalem artichokes. What are my chances of growing some here in Westbrook? (darling downs just S.W.of Toowoomba Qld.)I have planted a few, so here is hoping !
    I worry it is still not cold enough here ,all articles i have read say the northern 1/3 of the USA is ideal growing conditions for them. thanks for any info in advance
    Pete

    1. Hi Peter,

      I planted them in North Florida, USA and got a great harvest. The sunchokes grew far taller than me and produced about 4 quarts of tubers per Plant. Quite pleased overall though the plants did fall over during a hurricane. Lol.

      I’m thinking the sunchokes will do well in your area as well. They are quite a vigorous Plant!

      Cheers,

      Chris

  3. I have just harvested approx 200 tubers from 6 plants and had no idea on how to cook them or store them. Great little article. Can they be eaten/cooked fresh out of the ground or are they better stored/refrigerated first?
    Cheers,
    Lawrence.

  4. Artichokes are a vegetable i remember fondly from my childhood and I am now wanting to grow them – but I have not been able to find either tubers or seeds. Can you please tell me where I can source them in Tasmania?

    Thankyou
    Cheryl

  5. Thank you for a great article. Very informative. Your page was first on the list in our google search for information on jerusalem artichoke. We planted a few tubers in our a veggie garden a few years ago and had forgotten that we did. They kept coming up every year and grew so tall and so vigorously that we wondered what they were. We spotted the yellow daisy like flowers this morning that looked like our sunflowers in another part of our veggie garden and decided to google. We are going to harvest some in the next day or so. We have book marked your page for further reference.

  6. Hi Cheryl I have fond memories of eating them as a child in Tassie, I now live in Melbourne, and I still grow them from tubers that I brought back from Hobart, you will need to ask around, particularly in older parts of town, cause as they say once you plant them you have them for life, my parents grew them in moonah, if this is any help, I would send some tubers but it would prolly be very illegal cause of the clean green Tassie laws. I would start by asking some keen gardener type older locals. Good luck

  7. I have only eaten artichokes either boiled or raw, they have a very similar texture to a water chestnut when sliced or cubed and added to a salad, (removal of skin is optional if you scrub them well). The timing of boiling them is critical as when removed from heat they tend to keep cooking for a little while, properly prepared they are a little firm/ to slightly soft, over cooking them results in a sloppy mush, they still taste the same but the texture thing is destroyed. I have read articles on here where people prepare them boiled and mashed, and baked, it all sounds feasible, I guess that you gonna have to experiment with using them as a substitute for potato in other recipes. I wish you a lot of luck. p.s. this vegetable the warnings of wind in many people is justified, so you need to keep this in mind when deciding to give them a try.

  8. Hi, My brother in law got a bag for me from his workplace last week and I made a delicious cauliflower and jerusalem artichoke soup. He has brought me some more and I am wondering if there is any way I can freeze them?

  9. Wrote a comment back on March 14th. We have since harvested some artichokes and are still harvesting! They are such a versatile vegetable. We had them oven roasted tonight. Simply washed them well, cut off any odd coloured or small knobbly ends and put them in a roasting dish, drizzled olive oil on them and sprinkled them with a little pepper and salt. Roasted for about 20 mins or so in 200 C oven. Turning them occasionally. Delicious. Once we also cut them into smallish slices (using them as if they were a water chestnut for texture) and added them to a spicy asian pork mince and put them inside wonton wrappers and gently boiled them and then added them into a asian style soup. A nutty flavour, hard to describe but delicious.

  10. Thank you for your article. It was so informative! I have a great deal of artichokes which need to be dug so I can replant in my garden so I was desperate for some storage tips. (after not having too much success in previous years)I remember my grandfather growing these when I was very young and ws so excited to get hold of some about 4 years ago, and since then the supply has been massive! The taste is something I have always loved, especially in a delicious slow cooked lamb stew this time of year! Thanks again

  11. Thank you for this article. We have a large contained bed here in Canberra. Even my daughter likes these roasted which are similar to potatoes but with a nuttier flavour. Thanks for the tip about boiling before roasting. Jerusalem Artichoke soup is also delicious – we use one onion, jerusalem artichokes and 1 potato, cook and then blend. It is naturally creamy so has the effect of a cream soup.

  12. Did anyone know where to purchase the tubers in Tasmania? Would appreciate any assistance. I live near Burnie
    Regards, Sandie

  13. hi I live in queensland ,near childers ,were can I buy the jerusalem artichokes for planting thanks Tony

  14. Hi, I live near Burnie Tasmania. I am looking for some tubers. Cany any one advise where I can purchase some, keeping in mind the quarantine system here.
    Regards, Sandie

  15. Hi I live in Katherine NT. Everybody seem to think you need cold weather to grow Jerusalem Artichokes . The coldest we get is about 15 degrees C in winter. Last June I bought a small plant at our Mitre 10 shop. I took it home and planted it. It grow for about a month and then died??. Early september it re shot and now covers about a metre square with some 15 stems. As it doesnt get cold here I will wait till June and dig the plants up and see what if tubers have developed. I remember mum boiling and slicing them and stirring them in brown butter pepper and salt. yum cant wait.

  16. Sandie I bought some tubers today from the Plants Plus nursery on Don Road at Devonport (5 for $2, so they are around in NW Tasmania.

  17. I harvest hundreds of tubers each winter, and try to give them away to friends who complain about peeling them, so will try the cook before peeling method today and hope that this improves their appeal!
    maggie

  18. I have these in my yard in ohio and I can’t get rid of them! Last year I removed 4 barrel loads of the tubers to thin them out and they still came back!

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