Not to be confused with globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) are a wonder unto themselves. A member of the sunflower family, Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, not only give you gorgeous yellow flowers but also provide you with delicious edible tubers not dissimilar to potatoes.
Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America and are a very easy perennial to grow. Some might say a little too easy as they can get out of control if not managed. For this reason, it is worth dedicating a larger space in your garden just for growing Jerusalem artichokes.
If you want to have a go at growing a more unusual vegetable, that is easy to maintain and gives you a huge harvest year after year, you should think about growing Jerusalem artichokes.
How to Grow Jerusalem Artichokes
Source: Huw Richards/YouTube
Jerusalem artichokes are grown for their edible tubers, and it’s these tubers you will need to get started. You can buy these online from seed companies, or, if you have a friend that grows them, ask for some tubers the next time they harvest theirs. This is the easiest way to get started, but you can plant them from seed, also.
This plant can grow up to 10 feet tall, just like regular sunflowers. Differently, Jerusalem artichokes branch out so need 3-5 feet in horizontal growing space, too. Once established, the roots are very difficult to get rid of, so make sure you are ready for the commitment.
Once you have your tubers, select decent-sized pieces. Smaller tubers produce a lesser harvest. The tubers will have eyes, like potatoes have, that need to be facing upwards when you plant them in the soil.
You can start planting the tubers a few weeks before the last frost date. Choose a full sun to partial shade spot in your garden with well-draining soil to plant the tubers.
They can be drought tolerant but prefer an inch of water a week for a good harvest. Jerusalem artichokes are not really too fussy about soil types and are pretty low maintenance.
Another great thing about growing Jerusalem artichokes is that they are pretty much pest resistant. Not much bothers them. Amazingly, even the deer seem to leave them alone.
Though it seems a shame, removing many of the flowers will mean that more energy is put into tuber growth. As well, a good prune mid-summer will have the same effect. Cut the stalks back to about 4 feet for rigorous tuber growth. You can always leave a few just for the pretty flowers.
Plant the tubers about 5 inches deep and 12-18 inches apart. They will reach maturity in about 110 to 150 days. You can start harvesting the tubers in October through December. A light frost will make them that little bit sweeter.
The tubers that are left in the ground will go grow again the following spring.
Health Benefits of Eating Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers
Jerusalem artichokes are an excellent source of inulin-rich dietary fiber. Inulin helps to increase friendly bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, in your gut.
These tubers are also a source of potassium, iron (100g providing 42.5% of the Recommended Daily Amount), and B-complex vitamins, most notably vitamin B1.
How to Prepare Jerusalem Artichoke
Jerusalem artichoke tubers, when cooked have a very similar texture to potatoes. They have a nutty flavor and are delicious cooked just as you would any other root vegetable. As a bonus, the tubers can be thinly sliced or grated and eaten raw in salads. The skin can be eaten, too.
One of the best ways to prepare them is to simply roast them with some mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper, and maybe some fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme. Chop them into bite-sized chunks, toss them in oil and season them up before popping them in the oven at about 350°F for 30-40 minutes.
This OGP recipe for Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes With Braised Garlicky Kale by Rhea Parsons celebrates the simplicity of roasting them beautifully. Here, the Jerusalem artichokes are roasted alongside parsnips, bell peppers, garlic, and light seasoning and roasted until golden and caramelized.
Another OGP recipe takes this humble tuber and turns it into a luxurious soup perfect for a chilly afternoon. This Jerusalem Artichoke Soup With Truffle Oil by Ida Hemmingsson-Holl is really simple to make and is just perfect served with a hunk of homemade bread.
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