Friday, November 8, 2013

What's That? A Sunchoke! Crazy Little Thing A.K.A. The Jerusalem Artichoke

It's gnarly! It's a bombly! It's crunchtastic! It's the sunchoke! This crazy rascal can be seen this time of year in the fresh produce department. When I see a fresh flock of these funny looking dudes I get em'! Use these hard crispy little critters as you would water chestnuts in Asian recipes, raw in salads, or even cook them like potatoes. Usually I just scrape off the skin and slice them up raw. If I purchase a bunch of them in a package, I will use one or two an evening depending on the size of the tuber. Make sure the sunchokes are fresh, then they could last you a couple weeks in the fridge. Who doesn't like that?

Sometimes you will see them listed as 'Jerusalem Artichokes.' Funny thing though, the sunchoke is not an artichoke, or from Jerusalem. It is a member of the sunflower family with edible tubers. It is a Native North Eastern American plant. Sunchokes are a good source of thiamin, phosphorous, potassium, iron and vitamin C. It is said that when eaten often, sunchokes help reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, even though the tubers do have a high fructose content. This is from the inulin levels of the tuber which also helps with intestinal bacteria. Although it is written on the internet that sunchokes can create flatulence in some people, it is also reported that removing the skin eliminates that issue. I have never noticed a problem at all with that concern, perhaps because I have always removed the skin. 

I love very crunchy things, and most of the time I add the sunchokes sliced raw into salads or a good stir-fry. Last night I did something different for me and added them to a simple seasonal veggie mix of organic mushrooms, split Brussels sprouts, and CSA baby carrots. I water sauteed all ingredients for a few minutes with 1/2 tsp coconut oil. Some thoughtful cooks would put a little lemon juice over the sunchokes to keep the flesh from turning brown. It did not sit long enough before I ate it to even start to turn brown. The fresh veggie mix tasted yummy!

Try this funny knobby sunchoke tuber that adds serious snap to your dish! Hopefully you too will enjoy this tuber, once cultivated by the original Native Americans, in your recipes. 

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