Jerusalem Artichoke: What Is It?

What I wouldn’t give for some delicious Jerusalem artichokes, more commonly known as a “tuber”! I can’t even begin to describe how amazingly sweet they taste! Add a little bit of garlic, lemon, salt and pepper and BOOM, there you have it! You can accompany them with basically any type of meat, chicken, turkey and/or even fish! But you know what, I will come back a little later with some awesome recipe ideas. For now, let’s concentrate on finding out what a Jerusalem artichoke is, what its nutritional values are and, where it grows along with a bit of its history.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Where does it grow and where does its name really come from?

Without giving you a history class because history really wasn’t my best subject in high school, Jerusalem artichokes, surprisingly enough, despite their name, DO NOT come from Jerusalem. They are actually native to Eastern North America and can be found in Eastern Canada and Maine, west to North Dakota and south to Northern Florida and Texas. I understand that this could be a little bit confusing so let me explain a little better.

Its botanical name is Helianthus Tuberosis. In the early 1600’s, it grew in the wild along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Nova Scotia, Canada. Now, I’m going to get a little deeper in to history, but not too deep.

 In 1605, Samuel de Champlain actually discovered it growing in a vegetable garden in Cape Code. After tasting one, he found that it tasted like artichoke, a vegetable that he was used to eating in France. There is a rumor that states that Champlain sent some artichokes back to his friends and family in France because he loved the taste so much.

In 1633, when the Jerusalem artichoke made its way to Italy, the word “girasole” which is Italian for “turning to the sun” was somehow transformed or should I say, “deformed” into the word “Jerusalem”. People just couldn’t pronounce the word.  Taking this into consideration along with the fact Champlain really enjoyed the taste, we now know where its “official” name today really comes from.

It wasn’t until the late 1900’s and early 2000’s that the vegetable became commercialized and sold in all local super markets and can find them under the name “sunchokes”.

What do they look and taste like?

The Jerusalem artichoke is, in reality, a perennial flower that looks a lot like a sunflower. I would love to grow some in my front yard, that’s how pretty I think they are.

They have a potato like texture and look like a ginger root when they are picked.

Their leaves are big, rough and have a hairy texture whereas the leaves at the lower end of the stem are much smaller and less fuzzy.

As far as their taste is concerned, well, I have to tell you, from a personal point of view, they are delicious! They actually remind me a lot of chestnut because of its texture and sweet/nutty taste.

Nutritional and health values

According to doctors, the Jerusalem artichoke is good for type 2 diabetics because they seem to show assistance in blood sugar control.

Unlike sugar, sunchokes store their carbohydrates in a form of “inulin” a starch that isn’t used by the body for energy. Health specialists recommend them as a substitute for potatoes because they are pretty filling and low in fat and has zero cholesterol.

 

Jerusalem Artichoke FlowersPer 100 grams

73 calories

17.44 grams of carbohydrates

1.6 grams of protein

4 grams of vitamin C

.19 mg of Vitamin E

429 mg of potassium

4 mg of sodium

1.6 grams of dietary fiber

14 mg of calcium

3.40 mg of iron

Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service

If your immune system is in need of a boost, then you should go to the market right now and purchase some. They are magnificent and will help us get through this cold winter period awaiting us. It will help us keep our muscles strong and healthy all the while making sure that our nervous system is functioning properly.

Now, if you suffer from mild constipation, these can absolutely help you gain regularity. I know that it could be very uncomfortable and unpleasant to suffer from constipation as my son is currently going through that. He would kill me if he knew that I was writing about his problem right now. Let’s keep it between us, alright? However, I have to let you in on a little secret. Don’t eat too many and make sure that you cook them accordingly as they may cause flatulence. Yes, I did just write that. It’s true though! No one likes that. Admit it, it’s embarrassing! Some actually like to call them “fartichokes”. That’s how bad it could get!

Fun facts

  • Today, there are over 200 varieties of Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Not only do people use them for comestible reasons but they also use them to make alcohol because of the natural fructose it provides.
  • They can grow in the bed with tomatoes and cucumbers.
  • The best months for growing them are September, October and November.

If you feel like you want to harvest Jerusalem artichokes, be sure to plant the tubers at least 5cm deep. Space the plants at least 30-45 cm a part and plant them when the soil temperatures are between 8 ˚ C and 15˚C. After approximately 15-20 weeks, you will be able to eat them! Now, don’t worry. You only have to plant them once as they will come back year after year. If you want them to be larger at harvest, just make sure that you water them more. They are however, very drought tolerant. Apparently, very easy to grow.

This time of year, I love to make soup with them! When it gets a little nippy out there, I just make a heartwarming Jerusalem artichoke soup for my family and it usually puts a smile on everyone face. I just love to see my husband and my children smile!

Enjoy the rest of your day! Please feel free to leave me your comments below. I always love to answer your questions. Perhaps you can teach me something? Perhaps you have a fun fact or a recipe that you would like to share with me?

 

Hannah Walker

xo

Hannah Walker is a Christian, wife, mother, and writer. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina and loves to learn every day about what it truly means to be a divine homemaker. She and her husband are zelous about living a self sustaining life style that is pleasing to God.

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