Along the Grapevine


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Jerusalem Artichokes

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After we moved into our current house four years ago, I had to plant some of the basic edibles I had left in our old property – things like horseradish, lovage and jerusalem artichokes. A kind vendor from a market in Toronto gave me a handful of chokes, and from those I now have two good sized patches. As for the lovage and horseradish, I can’t remember where I planted them, and hope they make their presence known to me somehow eventually.

The artichokes are more difficult to lose. They grow about five feet tall, and as they are of the sunflower family, they have easily recognizable yellow flowers blooming at this time of year. They are also a natural deterrent to weeds, so they don’t get covered or overwhelmed by other invasive plants.

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Because they multiply so easily, they can be found growing semi-wild. If you suspect you have some, pull out a root, and if there are knobbly white tubers attached to it, that’s it.

I love the ease of growing them, as well as their flavour (very much like artichokes). Boiled, roasted, sauteed or grated raw, they are a welcome change from other carbohydrates, especially with a little lemon and salt.  However, they are so prolific that you may not be able to use your entire crop. They don’t keep well after picking – two or three weeks in the fridge wrapped in plastic and paper bag over that. Once cooked, they really should be used within a day or two, and don’t bother trying to freeze them – don’t know what it does to them, but it is not pleasant.

They do not need peeling, just a good scrub, and any rough spots grated off. Especially if done right away, they clean very easily, and are a nice creamy white.

Jerusalem Artichoke Flour

So in order to use as many as I can in the fall and keep them through the winter, I have taken to dehydrating them, then grinding them into a flour. Just how this flour can be used, I have yet to find out over the next few weeks. So far, I have used it as a thickener in soups and sauces, but hope to have some results from my baking experiments soon.

Jerusalem Artichoke Chips

In the meantime, I discovered that the thin slices I was preparing to dry (and had way too many to fit into the dehydrator) could also be transformed into crisp, delicious chips. I fried them in coconut oil, a few at a time, and just long enough that they were caramel coloured all over and starting to curl up a bit. I added a little salt, and that was that. Apparently others have done this, but it was new to me! Other recipes suggest other types of oil, which I’m sure are fine, but I am recommending here the coconut.

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