Jocelyn mentioned making a nice batch of fermented sunchokes on a tour of basecamp and I thought of that when I watched this episode of Kitchen Vignettes. Can't wait to make a few jars this fall. Enjoy!
If the Inulin, the fiber in them ferments in the small gut, gas is produced. In a perfectly balanced gut biome, this fermenting wouldn't happen until in the large gut and there wouldn't be nearly as much gas produced, but we live in a world of preservatives and sugars that throw the healthy gut balance way off. If the Inulin is converted into Fructose, the gas isn't an ... issue! I'm a terrible punster.
There are four ways to convert Inulin into Fructose. One is to cook them for several hours. Two is to cook them in an acid such as vinegar, citric acid or lemon juice. Three is to thoroughly freeze them. Frosts don't really reach them in the ground, but frosts do help drive the nutrients in the leaves and stalks down into the tubers making them sweeter. For some, this is enough to reduce the gas, but not for all. Four is to ferment them. They can be fermented like refrigerator pickles, lacto-fermented on the shelf, then moved into the fridge. They can be fermented like sauerkraut or in a Kimchi. There is actually a fifth way. I take an Inulin supplement for gut health on a daily basis. My guts are well accustomed to Inulin and I can chow down on them raw in the fall with no ill wind effects.
We can most of the ones we pull in the fall as pickles and relishes. The vinegar and the canning process followed by shelf storage cures every bit of the gas problem. And the pickles? I like them better than cukes! The rest we leave in the ground over winter. In our Zone 5 area, as soon as I can work the soil, I pull more for cooking and eating raw. They can be harvested until they start to sprout and that happens when the soil reaches about 50°F.
I've dried raw chips, ground them in a food processor into flour and used it to thicken stews and gravies. It's a heavy flour, like Buckwheat, it has to be mixed with other lighter flours and it has to be mixed with wheat for it to raise. A bit added to thin crust pizza dough makes it much stiffer. I also toss chips onto pizzas for a different taste.
I'm going to try to overwinter some in 5 gallon buckets, layered with sawdust on our back deck. Our winter temps can drop to -20°F so I might have fun breaking some loose on really cold days, but I figure I could bring a bucket inside to thaw a bit and dig some out. If it works, we'll have some all through the winter. I wish we had a root cellar.
They're called Topinambours by the French, and by the Algonquins, Kaishúcpenauk, a compound of "sun" and "tubers". Kaishúcpenauk, from - Thomas Harriot. A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (Kindle Location 273). The Mohawk name is Ohnennata’ó:we, original potato. Let's all take a moment to pronounce the Native names ... OK, long enough. The Pennsylvania Dutch call them Aerdebbel in their Pennsylfaanisch. They're Cicoka in eastern Europe. To those of the Manglish persuasion they're called Fartichokes.
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