Sunchokes are a great way to welcome the spring months at the beginning of the market season. “What are sunchokes?” you might ask. Sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem Artichokes) are a member of the sunflower family, Helianthus. Some times, sunchokes are mistaken as ginger root, as they are very similar in appearance. Sunchokes, however, have a sweet nutty flavor and crunchy texture…imagine eating water chestnuts…its like that, but sweeter and with more flavor. Sunchokes are excellent in soup; try Sidney’s “Cream of Sunchoke Soup” that she made for Thanksgiving. Sunchokes are also an ideal fixing in a salad with their raw sweet-nutty crunch.
Sunchokes store best in a Kuhn Orchards perforated apple bag and should be kept in the refrigerator. They do have the tendency to discolor (similar to an apple), but if you treat them with a little lemon juice or cider vinegar after slicing, it should prevent the pink discoloration.
We bring Sunchokes to market twice a year. They grow all summer long, and we will harvest some in late October and early November (hence making a great Thanksgiving soup!). And then we will “store” the sunchokes over the winter months by leaving them in the soil, and will harvest them again in the spring months before they begin to grow (again, being a welcoming sign of spring).
Sunchokes are a tuber that store their carbohydrates as inulin (fructose) instead of starch (sucrose), and are good for diabetics. Sunchokes are said to be an excellent source of iron, and can have up to three-times more iron than a serving of broccoli. The are also a good source of vitamin B and C.
Pick up some sunchokes at market and try something new this week!