In case your wondering what the heck you're supposed to do with these odd-looking potato things you picked up at the CSA, we want to assure you that jerusalem artichokes are delicious and easy to cook with. A few kitchen tips should waylay any fears you might have! But first, here are some interesting facts:
- Jerusalem artichokes are actually a relative of the sunflower and are sometimes known as sunchokes.
- Nutritionally speaking, they contain high amounts of dietary fiber, potassium, and iron
- They're low in starch, and don't raise blood glucose levels the way most potatoes do. In fact jerusalem artichokes can help you maintain lower glucose levels, making them a good choice for type 2 diabetics.
- When taken in excess, they can act as a natural laxative. This has caused the jerusalem artichoke to be nicknamed the "fartichoke" in some circles! So if this is your first time eating them, you might try a smaller dose than say, a soup made entirely of puréed sunchokes. Most of us have no trouble if we incorporate them into larger dishes like salads, soups, and roasted vegetable sides.
Ok, now for the instructional stuff. Some tips for storing and cooking with sunchokes:
- Store in a cool, dry place : a paper sack in the pantry, or for longer storage the crisper drawer of the fridge with paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
- Like potatoes, they can be boiled, steamed, roasted, and mashed. The skin is tougher, so you might want to peel them first - take off the little knobs with a paring knife to make this step easier. If you're not afraid of a little texture, just give them a good scrub, remove the smallest knobs and then cut them into chunks.
- Their nutty, earthy flavor pairs well with sweet and tangy ingredients like lemon, vinegar, orange, mustard, mint, and chive. Also good with garlic and rosemary.
- We like to roast them with other root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, beets), chopped into largish pieces and dressed in a little olive oil with salt and pepper, at 425˚F for about 30 minutes.
- We also incorporated them into our mashed potatoes with great success, but found that with skins on they took a little longer to soften and had to be puréed separately in the food processor. Peel them first to avoid this step and boil them along with the potatoes.
What are your experiences with this intriguing vegetable? Leave us your feedback in the comments section!