Sunchokes are often called Jerusalem artichokes or sunroots, but botanically have nothing to do with Jerusalem, artichokes, or roots. Instead they are the edible tuber of a specific variety of sunflower with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Some people do feel they have an artichoke-like flavor, which is likely how they got their name. Originally from North America, they were once an important food source for some Native American tribes.
Nutritionally, sunchokes are a good source of Thiamin, Phosphorous, Potassium and Iron. Though their texture and flavor is starchy, they actually don’t contain starch, but instead a different carbohydrate called inulin. The human body converts inulin to fructose rather than glucose, so sunchokes are widely believed to be a better “starch” choice for diabetics.
Storage: Store sunchokes wrapped in paper towels and a zip top bag in your refrigerator crisper. Be careful not to put other vegetables on top of them or bang them around in the drawer, as they bruise easily.
Shelf Life: Up to a week.
RECIPES & TIPS
Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten with or without their skins. They are often roasted whole and then either served that way or mashed with butter and cream into a delicious puree. They can also be steamed, boiled, butter-braised, fried into sunchoke chips (as in our fish & chips recipe) or eaten raw in salad. In Europe (particularly France) they are highly regarded as a soup ingredient.
Try pairing sunchokes with dairy (butter, cream, milk), parmigiano reggiano, vinegar, onions, ginger, lemon juice, garlic, nuts, cloves, parsley or mint. They excel as a side dish with almost any roasted meat.
Avoid cooking sunchokes in aluminum or cast iron cookware, as doing so can turn them gray. If serving them cut but uncooked, a brief soak in water mixed with vinegar or lemon juice will keep them from oxidizing.