Botanical Name: Helianthus tuberosus
Some other names: Sunchoke, Sunroot, Topinambour
How to grow it:
Jerusalem artichoke is a hardy perennial to over 2m which is grown for it’s roots. During the growing season there is a showy display of sunflower-like yellow flowers. Note that the plant is nothing like an artichoke, and for that matter doesn’t come from Jerusalum either!
Will do best in full sun and in well drained, fertile soils, but I’ve received reasonable crops in poor soils too.
It’s ideal climate is temperate, where given the right soil conditions, can spread quite rapidly and become somewhat of a pest. In the tropics and subtropics it’s a little more temperamental – the root quality seems to deteriorate year by year and it may be best grown as an annual
It’s an excellent plant for drought conditions and needs very little fertiliser. It’s one of those plants you can put in “out of the way” and it will continue to produce year after year.
Propogation is by root division in spring – simply dig up some roots and put them in their new position. As the plant has high potassium needs, it’s worth sprinkling some wood ash around the planting area. Comfrey would make an excellent mulch.
Would probably grow well in pots if a new pot is planted every spring.
High in potassium and iron and also contains calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamins A, B, & C.
Using it in the kitchen:
The edible tubers are harvested once all the foliage dies down. It’s best to harvest only what you intend to use, as they don’t keep very well. Any tubers left in the ground will resprout in spring.
Tubers can be scrubbed and grated raw into salads – they have slight nutty flavour.
They can also be cooked like potatoes and have a similar texture. Try them in soups, casseroles & curries or on their own as a baked or boiled vegetable.
Jerusalem artichokes are a great survival plant, particularly in temperate zones as they regrow every season with very little care.