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The great big thread of sunchoke info - growing, storing, eating/recipes, science facts  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Oh, but "earth pear" is so much more poetic and romantic, and sounds so much more like something a person would want to eat!
sigh, couldn't we call it that, and see if we could bring about a change in what the English speaking part of the world calls this funny root?
 
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is there any reason these need to be peeled ?
 
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No. Many people like myself prefer to buy and grow the ones with more regular, rounded roots. Then I use a vegetable brush to clean them. It's just a regular brush that I have dedicated to vegetables, so, for example, it doesn't have any chlorine based cleaners on it. I often have to break them apart to get at some of the dirt. I'm not anti-dirt obsessive. Mine are grown in good quality organic soil, so a little dirt is ok, especially since I mostly ferment them. In many fruits and vegetables, if they're grown organically, the peel is the most nutritious part.
john S
PDX OR
 
Susan Doyon
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thank you
now that we are having some thaws I will dig some , still trying to find ways I like them. I am not really crazy about them roasted , in the next few weeks I think I will try adding some to slaw , and pickling some
I need to figure out how I like them or they will take over the front lawn !
 
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Location: Cascadia Zone 8b Clay
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Mike Turner,

If you are looking for a sunroot that is slower to spread, try White Dwarf, Dwarf Sunray, or Supercluster as they are smaller, less invasive plants than the average sunroot cultivar. You can find them at Oikos.



What is an Oikos?

 
John Saltveit
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A plant nursery in Michigan. Look it up.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Oh, but "earth pear" is so much more poetic and romantic



I can hear it already when I take sunroots to the farmer's market:

Visitor: What' are those?
Farmer: They're Earth Pears.
Visitor: Oh. I don't like pears.
 
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Anyone knows which other plants grow well around them?
I just bought about 4kg (~9lbs) of sunchokes and I'm going to plant them like Joseph Lofthouse mentioned above, 0.5m (18in) apart and rows one lawn-mower width apart, and I'd like to fill up the space in-between them with some veggies.
I'm guessing I'll need something that grows well in the shade, as I see they produce quite a lot of leaves and stalks.

Any suggestions/past experiences?
 
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I'm curious if some peas or beans might do well growing with/near them? like a three sisters type deal going. you would have to plant them after the chokes are up a bit to make sure they have something there ready to climb on.
 
Gerbert Thorne
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kadence blevins wrote:I'm curious if some peas or beans might do well growing with/near them? like a three sisters type deal going. you would have to plant them after the chokes are up a bit to make sure they have something there ready to climb on.



I was thinking the same thing, but then again sunchokes have rhyzomes so that might take up other plants' root space...

Perhaps something that goes well with potatoes?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Gerbert Thorne wrote:Anyone knows which other plants grow well around them?



At my place it's bindweed, amaranth, lambsquarters, and thistles.
 
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We love eating the sunchokes baked in a medly of roots -- carrots, turnips, beets, sunchokes and some slices of onion. With a little olive oil and seasoning, baked until kind of caramelized, sooo tasty. I like them boiled with a bit of butter.

The biggest problem I have with them is that the deer just love browsing them which drops tuber production something fierce. Of course the voles love them as well but we have had copperhead snakes, shrews and weasels move in and it has dropped our vole predation considerably. Putting suitable habitat for them has really paid off. Keeping an eye out for the copperheads is not much of a problem because we do that anyway.

I usually plant ground nuts withthem. The ground nuts climb the sunchoke stalks and they are all dug up at the same time. Purslane grows around it pretty well and doesn't seem to interfere. Works out pretty well.
 
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Becky Mundt wrote:What is an Oikos?



A commercial nursery selling productive trees, fairly popular with a lot of permies: Oikos Tree Crops
 
Posts: 44
Location: SW Ohio, 6b, heavy clay prone to hardpan
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kadence blevins wrote:I'm curious if some peas or beans might do well growing with/near them? like a three sisters type deal going. you would have to plant them after the chokes are up a bit to make sure they have something there ready to climb on.



Pole beans thrive growing on the tall stems. Last season, some of my most prolific beans grew in the sunchoke patch. In my opinion, this is a great companion planting. I managed to more than triple the production of NA-native amberique beans (Strophostyles helvola) by simply planting wild seeds among the sunchokes. No additional fertilize, care, or ground preparation at all, just planted the beans in a patch of established sunchokes.

As far as digestion issues, we harvest all winter, and then in very early spring we harvest some extra (storing them in the refrigerator in bags with dry paper towels to keep moisture levels down). There is still a little gas, but not anywhere near as much as eating them without the long cold storage. We also often deep fry them, sliced (sun chips are yummy), which also improves digestibility.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I've made deep-fried sunroot chips on a number of occasions. I think that they are horrid, because the longer and hotter they are cooked, the more they taste like sunflower resin. That is a taste that I really don't like. So whenever anyone asks me for a recipe, I either say, "Raw like in a cole-slaw", or "Roasted with other root vegetables", or "Added to a soup or stir-fry".

I had a party in my garden yesterday to plant the first crop of the new season (fava bean transplants). We also did the first harvest of the new season, by digging a hill of sunroots that were stored in the ground overwinter.
 
Susan Doyon
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we will have some warm weather this week I am going to dig some and try adding to a slaw . I like the flowers more than the tuber so far
 
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Location: South-central PA
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Lucy Gabzdyl wrote:I grew sunchokes for the first time this year - Red Fuseau - I'm in Zone 10B in southern Spain and I had huge problems with powdery mildew so I had to cut down the plants very early and as a result have not had a very good yield. Has anyone else had PM problems?

Hi, Lucy. My parents grew sun chokes for years, and sometimes they did get quite a bit of PM on the leaves. They were often pretty crowded ( thinning was never Dad's strong suit), which of course probably contributed. But in the autumn, we just went ahead and dug the tubers up anyway, and always had plenty. They weren't grown near anything which we were worried about sharing the PM, so just didn't worry too much about it. I don't know what to do to limit it, but I suppose that I may get more experience soon, as I am planting some sun chokes here at my place this year, and here we do have a tendency for PM on curcurbit crops. I will let you know how it goes. Did you cut down your sunchoke plants to avoid the PM spreading to other crops? Is there a space on your land that is far enough from other PM susceptible crops that you can afford to just let them finish out the season, even with the PM on their leaves?

 
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Donna Kolaetis wrote:

Lucy Gabzdyl wrote:
Hi, Lucy. My parents grew sun chokes for years, and sometimes they did get quite a bit of PM on the leaves. They were often pretty crowded ( thinning was never Dad's strong suit), which of course probably contributed. But in the autumn, we just went ahead and dug the tubers up anyway, and always had plenty. They weren't grown near anything which we were worried about sharing the PM, so just didn't worry too much about it. I don't know what to do to limit it, but I suppose that I may get more experience soon, as I am planting some sun chokes here at my place this year, and here we do have a tendency for PM on curcurbit crops. I will let you know how it goes. Did you cut down your sunchoke plants to avoid the PM spreading to other crops? Is there a space on your land that is far enough from other PM susceptible crops that you can afford to just let them finish out the season, even with the PM on their leaves?



Thanks for getting back to me, yes I cut them down to avoid the PM spreading - it affected my brusselssprouts But I'm moving this year and will be taking my sunchokes with me, so hopefully won't have the same problem.

 
Posts: 152
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Anyone have a bad experience with mice/voles/moles eating their tubers? I have numerous tunnels and mounds and nearby plants have been destroyed (grape/alpine strawberry). I'm wondering if containers or digging them in the fall is a better option for me.
 
John Saltveit
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This might be a great time to set up a perch for a large raptor like a hawk or owl. Unfortunately, they also like songbirds. Same problem with cats.
John S
PDX OR
 
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How about some information on the grubs that eat sunchokes and method to deal with said grubs!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Aaron Festa wrote:Anyone have a bad experience with mice/voles/moles eating their tubers?



To me that would be a good experience!!! Even a great experience.

 
John Saltveit
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Hey Alex,
How about some information on the grubs that eat sunchokes and method to deal with said grubs!
I think chickens should work for you there.
John S
PDX OR
 
Lucy Gabzdyl
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Aaron Festa wrote:Anyone have a bad experience with mice/voles/moles eating their tubers?



Yep, when I was clearing my sunchoke bed I cam across a rat's nest with baby rat included, in fact it gave me such a shcok before I knew it he was on a way flight to blackberry city! I'm moving shortly and my plan is to gow the sunchokes in a huge container. Also I don't think we will have so many rats as we are moving into the country where it's mainly olive trees, there is less for rats to eat.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Yesterday I dug a bushel of sunroots. Used some of them to start a batch of sauerkraut. I really, really liked digging the plant that had super-short stolons. All the tubers were right next to the stalk, so it made digging really easy. I expanded my patch by planting more of that variety...

sunroots-bushel.jpg
[Thumbnail for sunroots-bushel.jpg]
Bushel of sunroots. Harvested in the spring.
 
Aaron Festa
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Joseph you replied to my question with no context. How would it be good? When I lost neighboring plants? And yes I have seen Paul's videos on voles.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Aaron Festa wrote:Anyone have a bad experience with mice/voles/moles eating their tubers?


To me that would be a good experience!!! Even a great experience.



I breed sunroots. Therefore, in order to be able to distinguish this year's seedlings from last year's left over tubers, I have to plant sunroots in a different place each year. Sunroots are weedy, so more and more of my garden keeps getting taken over by sunroot weeds. So, if there was a critter that would eat sunroot tubers for me, I'd consider that to be a good thing. Pigs would do it, and chickens would keep the plants picked off until they eventually died... But because I grow for market, I can't have a constant source of fresh manure in the middle of my market garden. I'd do that for myself, but not for patrons.

I currently have about 1/10th acre in sunroots. 3/4 of those are weeds.

Pretty weeds, but still weeds.
 
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My original planting of sunroots has almost completely died, proving that I can kill virtually anything considered "invasive."
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:My original planting of sunroots has almost completely died, proving that I can kill virtually anything considered "invasive."



Don't feel bad--I did pretty much the same thing! I planted a good 30 of them last winter, about 6 in my duck yard and probably 20 by my shed. Thankfully the ones in the duck yard did well enough (never flowered or got terribly tall, but they made tubers and survived). All but two of the ones by the shed didn't make it. I thought that perhaps it was because I did not plant them nicely (I pried up the ground and stuck them in). So, this year I tried again, loosening all the soil and planting them perfectly spaced. So far, only a few plants have come up. Three are nearly dead from bunnies/deer/ducks eating them, and the other three look to be doing okay. There's an 8x2 stretch in the middle where none have come up. They didn't come up there last year or this year. WHY?!?! Did our property's previous owner poison the ground there or something?!

So, yeah, you're not the only one that kills sunchokes!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The sunroot-slaw turned out nice, so tonight I ate some, and popped the rest into the refrigerator.... Before fermenting, I added a half onion, some red cabbage, and some carrots.

 
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I have a load of Jerusalem artichokes in the garden.  We've had a couple of frosts here already.  The first ones I picked seem to really taste like artichokes, but sort of in a sickly way.  Am I imagining this?  The whole family thinks they taste like artichokes.  We also grow regular artichokes.  But some how the Jerusalem Artichokes have a very strong flavor when cooked.  I need a way to mellow them out.  At this point no one will eat them except me.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I typically use sunroots by adding them to a soup, stir-fry, or roast. That way, it's easy to eat them without worrying about the flavor profile or gastro-intestinal distress. In my experience, the longer and hotter sunroots are cooked, the stronger the flavor. Therefore, I do not deep-fry them in hot oil. If I sautee them, it's in something like butter on low heat, so that they simmer gently and don't get overheated. I shred, then lacto-ferment sunroots, and really enjoy them like that. I don't try to cook them as a dish all by themselves. One of my patrons eats them as a raw vegetable.

I've dug about 100 pounds of sunroots recently. I expect to dig about that many more next week. I collected a really nice stash of seeds from them as well.



 
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@Joseph L: "In my experience, the longer and hotter sunroots are cooked, the stronger the flavor. .....If I sautee them, it's .... on low heat, so that they simmer gently and don't get overheated."

This is interesting.  I just added a bit too many of them I think to a pot of minestrone....the flavor seemed a bit strong for the soup, but still edible.   But interestingly the flavor has gotten stronger with
the re-heating of the soup rather than weaker as I would have expected, even overpowering the parsnips.  This little tuber has a learning curve, that's for sure.
 
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I like them sliced super thin and fried in clarified butter.  I cook them twice to ensure they crisp up.  They make a nice crunchy addition to a salad or as a small pile of chips to go with a meal.  Combined with fried onions... MMMMMMM.
 
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Joseph is right, they make a great ferment. Their high inulin content makes them an ideal food for lactobacilli. I have fermented them in chunks with black pepper and lemon, delicious and no digestive problems.

I am wondering when to plant them in the Pacific NW. I'm looking for things I can stick in Washington's wet wet ground right now.
 
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I have just managed to avoid deadly farts for the first time. I have placed sunchokes in a freezer for a week, then I have used them to make a cream soup. No farts at all, finally.
 
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I just saw the title of the thread and had a good giggle. I thought it really say "science farts"
Must be my brain thinking sunchokes
 
John Weiland
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@Fredy P: "I have fermented them in chunks with black pepper and lemon, delicious and no digestive problems. "

Now that these plants seem poised to make an all-out assault on the rest of our garden, could you please point me to a recipe for doing this, preferably in the jars from which they will be eaten?  Would be fun to give this a try....Thanks!
 
Fredy Perlman
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Hi John, it's so easy a recipe is not needed really. These are the proportions, which I usually upscale to 3 lb batches:

1lb sunchokes, scrubbed and cubed
1 tsp pink salt, kosher salt or sea salt (NO additives)
1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
Filtered (no chlorine!) water to cover
3 tbsp lemon juice
&
cheesecloth

Put all ingredients in a glass jar and cover with cheesecloth, leave to ferment 10 days at ideal temperature of 70 deg F. You'll probably need another day for every 3 degrees below that, to a minimum of 60 where you'd need a heating pad on low. Do not ferment above 85, gross things will outcompete the lactobacilli. It'll bubble and may get a film of yeasts on top.

Taste after 5-7 days to make sure it's proceeding alright. It's done when you like the taste and it's good & sour! Put in fridge, stores for up to 6 mo
 
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Looking for a good picture of the 'sunflower with the edible root' which I was telling a coworker I just planted led me to this link http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/05/what-to-do-with-sunchokes.html#comments-297918 As much as we talk about growing these I'm seeing a grand total of two recipes here, so I thought maybe some more suggestions would be welcome. There are more recipes hidden in the comment section there.

I'm particularly interested in the 'twice baked' option. Boil the tubers till soft, smash them flat with the bottom of a pan and then pan fry with bacon, onions, garlic, and rosemary. I think you could make shoe leather tasty with that recipe.

edit: While I'm at it, here's five more recipes, including a soup http://www.thekitchn.com/tasty-tubers-5-recipes-with-su-129533
 
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