Jerusalem Artichoke: A Ray of Sunflower to Brighten Your Plate
Jerusalem artichoke. Sunchoke. Sun root. Earth apple. Whatever you call it, this earthy vegetable, the tuber of a species of sunflower, is a world traveler.
Enjoyed by Native Americans long before Europeans came to this part of the world, the Jerusalem artichoke was taken to Europe in the 1700s and quickly gained popularity. (The name Jerusalem artichoke, incidentally, has nothing to do with Jerusalem. It is said to be a corruption of the Italian word for sunflower—girasole.) Jerusalem artichokes continue to be an important part of French cuisine and are used throughout Europe. They are traditionally made into a distilled spirit in Germany. More locally, look for Sunchoke Brandy from KOVAL, the Chicago- based distillery.
Jerusalem artichokes form below the soil during the summer and fall, winter over well and are plentiful at Michiana farmers markets from February through May. They cook up into velvety soups and nutty baked dishes. (Note: Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, which some individuals find difficult to digest. Start by eating small amounts.)
Selecting: Look for firm, crisp Jerusalem artichokes with smooth skin and no black spots.
Storing: Store in the refrigerator, covered, for 2–3 weeks.
Preparation: Most recipes do not call for peeling. Instead, scrub well to remove grit and soil from between the nubs.
Uses: Jerusalem artichokes are best enjoyed baked, creamed, fried, roasted or sautéed.
Pairings: Bacon, black pepper, butter, chicken stock, chives, cream, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, goat cheese, hazelnuts, leeks, lemon, morels, nutmeg, olive oil, onions, parsley, potatoes, rosemary, sage, salt, shallots, sunflower seed oil, tarragon and thyme.