This is a blog about the pursuits of Naturalist Alan Russo to incorporate all things Natural, especially Plants, into his daily life. Living close to Nature has always been a passion of mine and I try, with natures help, to live a Healthy lifestyle for myself and for the Earth.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jerusalem Artichokes / Sunchokes

Chokes on Plant
Ready to eat !

  Autumn is a time for harvest. It is a good time to dig roots a tubers as the plants are beginning to store their  nutrition in their roots for surviving a long winter and to have a nutritional boost in the Spring to get them started.
  When I teach Wild Edible and Medicinal Plant workshops, one of the important rules of collecting that I teach my students is not to rely on common names for a plants identification. Jerusalem Artichoke is a perfect example of a common name that can mess you up when trying to figure out a plant. This plant has nothing to do with Jerusalem and is not related to Artichokes in any way! Rather than type out a long explanation I would like to point you to a site I found that does a great job in explaining the whole deal: http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch26.html . Just keep in mind the whole thing about common names and you will have a safer collecting experience.
  I brought my Chokes with me when I moved to NC. It doesn't take many as the reproduce like crazy. If you plant them you better have a place set aside that you can dedicate to the chokes for the rest of your life! They are  extremely prolific. Even if you leave a small piece in the ground when digging them up you will have more plants than you know what to do with in a couple of years. On the bright side, you will never go hungry again!
  Jerusalem Artichokes are actually sunflowers. They bloom in the early Autumn, rather than in the summer like most sunflowers. They can grow quite tall, 7 feet or more is common, and the yellow flowers are small compared to the size of the plant. The flowers don't last very long and you should wait till the flowers and the plants die back before you collect the Tubers for optimal nutrition. Speaking of Nutrition, here is a site that shows the nutritional value of Jerusalem Artichokes:  http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2456/2   Besides all this, the polysaccharides  in Jerusalem Artichokes are in the form of inulin and not starch which means they has a very low glycemic index and are excellent for diabetics when eaten raw.
  Jerusalem Artichokes are really good! They have a mild flavor, are very crunchy (like water chestnuts) and can be used lots of ways in many recipes. I like them best raw, but they can be boiled, sauteed, juiced or baked. I've made them Scalloped on many occasion and they were delicious. The biggest problem is to know what to do with all those Chokes!  

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