Name Variations Edit
About Jerusalem artichoke Edit
Wikipedia Article About Jerusalem Artichoke on Wikipedia
The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.), also called the sunroot or sunchoke, is a flowering plant native to North America, grown throughout the temperate world for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.
The Jerusalem artichoke has absolutely nothing to do with Jerusalem, and little to do with true artichokes. The first part of its name is due to the process of folk etymology. When it was first discovered, it was called Girasole, which is the Italian word for sunflower (it refers to the way in which the flowers turn towards the sun). The Jerusalem artichoke is a type of the sunflower, in the same genus as the garden sunflower Helianthus annuus. Later people thought that Girasole sounded like Jerusalem, so they called it that. In recent years, many people have taken to calling it sunchoke or sunroot to avoid this confusion.
This vegetable is not an actual artichoke, which is a species of thistle, but a variety of sunflower with a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber that superficially resembles a gingerroot. Contrary to what the name implies, this vegetable has nothing to do with Jerusalem but is derived instead from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole. Because of its confusing moniker, modern-day growers have begun to call Jerusalem artichokes sunchokes, which is how they're often labeled in the produce section of many markets. The white flesh of this vegetable is nutty, sweet and crunchy. Jerusalem artichokes are available from about October to March. Select those that are firm and fresh-looking and not soft or wrinkled. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. After that, they will begin to wither because of moisture loss. They may be peeled or, because the skin is very thin and quite nutritious, simply washed well before being used. Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw in salads or cooked by boiling or steaming and served as a side dish. They also make a delicious soup. Jerusalem artichokes are a good source of iron.
The second part of its common name comes from its taste. The tuber, which is the only part used, tastes like a cross between radish and artichoke.
The tubers are gnarly and uneven, vaguely resembling ginger root, with a crisp texture when raw. Unlike most tubers, but in common with other members of the Asteraceae (including the artichoke), the tubers store the carbohydrate inulin (not to be confused with insulin) instead of starch. For that reason, they are an important source of fructose for industry. It also gives them a tendency to break down and dissolve when cooked, in addition to giving them a legendary facility to produce flatulence.
These vegetables are sold in the produce departments of supermarkets. The freshest roots are plumpish and vibrant in appearance. If left too long in the open, they become wrinkled and soft and can develop a bitter taste.
A relative of the sunflower, this vegetable is native to America, not Jerusalem, and is only distantly related to artichokes. In fact, these tubers are actually a member of the Sunflower family. The white flesh is nutty, sweet and crunchy like chestnuts when raw. Baked in their skins, they become more like potatoes with a mild taste of artichoke hearts.
The Jerusalem artichoke is widely grown in gardens in Texas and is harvested in the fall for highest quality. Widely available in supermarkets, its peak period is September through January, but often continues through the early spring.
Select firm sunchokes that are firm and free from mold, rotten spots, and wrinkled skin. Sunchokes vary in color where their shades range from dark brown to light brown in color, similar to ginger.
These tubers need be refrigerated, unwashed, in a plastic bag for up to 1 week for successful storage.
- Vegetable of the Month: Tubers by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, public domain government resource—original source of article