The sunchoke, often called the Jerusalem artichoke, is a plant that grows underground like a potato and is related to the sunflower. It is native to America, and has nothing to do with either Jerusalem or artichokes. It was originally cultivated by native Americans. The tubers are gnarly and uneven, vaguely resembling ginger root. It is also called sunroot, earth apple or topinambour, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. Jerusalem artichokes are a knobby root vegetable with a slightly nutty and savory taste, like a cross between an artichoke heart and the best potato you've ever had. The flavor has also been compared to a water chestnut. Paul and I really love them! They can be roasted whole in their skins, or they can be peeled. To roast whole, scrub very carefully to remove any grit from the deep crevices as they are very irregular in shape. If you eat them cooked, they have a creamy texture and you can use them in ways similar to potatoes. They can be eaten raw as well. With their peel left intact, you can wash, then thinly slice raw Jerusalem artichokes and add them to any type of salad. Jerusalem artichoke is one of the finest sources of dietary fibers, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin, which is a soluble non-starch polysaccharide. Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine and inert carbohydrate which does not metabolize inside the human body, and thereby making it an ideal sweetener for diabetics. As we have discussed in a past blog, inulin is a prebiotic and provides great health benefits for the gut.
Five reasons to fall in love with sunchokes:
- Helps to lower blood pressure
- High in potassium
- Decreases blood cholesterol
- One cup of sunchokes provides you with a quarter of your daily iron
- High in protein