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All about Sunchokes

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Originally posted 14 May 2013, reposted 21 April 2014

Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes
This photo is of our Jerusalem Artichokes last year in the field, which turned out to be a very nice hedge at the side of our salad mix patch.  If you've never used them before, you're in for a treat and something really truly different.  They are, as they look, in the sunflower family, and they have a fantastic crunch and a nutty sunflower flavour.  You can, but need not peel them, just scrub them to get the dirt off (which should come as a relief as most of them are pretty gnarly!).

In my previous job in Calgary, I often recommended Sunchokes as an alternative to potatoes for those watching their blood sugar levels or on restrictive diets or clenses.  Sunchokes contain the carbohydrate inulin instead of starch, which is a type of dietary fibre known as fructan that the human body has a limited ability to process.  Unlike potatoes-- which are considered high on the glycemic index-- the inulin in sunchokes does not cause an insulin response in the body or raise triglycerides (Of course, please do your own research to see if it is right for you if you are on a restricted diet). 

Regardless of all this, they are delicious little nuggets and I hope you find a way to enjoy them!  The first time I had them I over-roasted them, which was a big mistake: They get bitter and have a soggy textured when overcooked.  Once I was ready to attempt cooking them again I used a recipe and had much better luck.  I have heard that they can be hard to digest for some, who recommend fully cooking them (like in the soup recipe below).  I am including a recipe that is basically how I most often prepare them, as well as links to a few others that I think look interesting:

RECIPE: Sauteed Sunchokes
1 lb sunchokes/jerusalem artichoke
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 Scrub or peel artichokes.
2 Slice each artichoke to 1/4 inch thick slices.
3 In a Wok or frying pan, heat olive oil and butter on medium-high heat.
4 Add sliced artichokes, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley; stir well to coat artichokes.
5 Stir-fry for about 4 minutes, stirring often.
6 Do not overcook artichokes, they should be slightly crunchy.
7 Serve immediately.

Check out a couple of other recipes that might inspire you:
Cream of Sunchoke Soup(We tried this one last fall with much success; I highly recommend it!)
Sunny Sunchoke Salad

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