Jerusalem artichokes are edible tubers that have a similar taste to globe artichokes, although they are actually not related to one another. They are also not from Jerusalem. So who knows where that name came from. They produce lovely flowers through the summer reminiscent of sunflowers and you eat the tuber in the Fall once they are harvested. With all of this in mind, it makes more sense to me to refer to them as sunchokes.
Sunchokes are very easy to grow and reportedly multiply like crazy every year. They multiply so much, in fact, that everything I have seen highly recommends planting them in a permanent place as one cannot possibly harvest every last tuber. So you are sure to have some pop up every year. I can’t imagine ever having enough of them, so I am completely on-board – globe artichokes are my favorite veggie, so this might become a close second.
I have been patiently waiting all winter for them to pop up on produce shelves again and recently heard rumor that People’s Co-op were carrying organic sunchokes. I love spending time in that store – it reminds me of my happy years living in Eugene and visiting the local natural foods store there: Sundance. They even look alike inside the stores – weird. Anyways, I popped into the store and picked up a giant bag full of the little tubers on a recent sunny day. It was difficult to have enough restraint to not consume the entire bag, but I managed to leave them all in tact long enough to get them in the ground. But then I have been told before that I possess a will of steel…
I am not sure if it’s too early to plant them or not, but I went for it this weekend anyways. A girl can only go so long without sinking her hands into soil… With the fluffy layer of wood chips and leaves over the yard though, I think they will keep warm enough to last through these remaining chilly days. I cut them into smaller pieces, all with at least one eye per piece, and sunk them down a few inches.
A return trip to People’s might be necessary this weekend to reward my good behavior in demonstrating such amazing restraint. And what will I purchase you ask? Why, a large bag of sunchokes to devour in one sitting, of course.
UPDATE: All of the sunchokes are coming up this Spring, so it was not too early to plant them!