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

 
pioneer
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Recipe?

I literally just array them on a plate and nuke them until the insides are as buttery-soft as a well-roasted sweet potato or a roasted garlic clove.

The skin retains a fibrous chewiness and a bit of that flavor Joseph describes as resinous, but I don't mind it when accompanied by the sweet soft goo inside.  I just sprinkle with salt and eat.

If my eating scheme allowed for butter, i would surely put some on there.

Have you ever had those little yellow "Swede" potatoes shaped like bananas, that become sweet and buttery when well-cooked?  That's what the insides of sun chokes taste like to me after 8-10 minutes in the microwave.

As for "wind", I don't detect a difference.  But when you eat a plant-based diet full of legumes like I do, there's an overall fairly high level of digestive vigor going on, it takes something fairly spectacular to stand out as noise in the signal.
 
gardener
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I want to create a demand for them in my family. I'm growing them in pots this year, but if I can find enough different ways my family likes to eat them, then we may devote a whole garden bed to them. For some reason I've really set my heart on getting them in that bed, so I'm already starting my recipe search.
 
pollinator
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Thanks for posting those links to recipes.  I think we have a lot of tubers in the garden, but so far I've not been good about cooking and serving them.  I'm always thrilled when something will grow and produce here, I'd hate to just waste this productivity because I failed to find a way to make them palatable.

 
pollinator
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I've tried roasting them (usually with other root veggies) but never really cared for them that way.  I found them to be their most palatable after a long simmer in a pot of soup.
 
Posts: 102
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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When I was still living in Seattle, I went to a fancy new vegan restaurant and eagerly ate a dish featuring sunchokes. Delicious! So tasty! And the next day, I felt like Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, slowly inflating to perfect roundness. I've never been so horrendously bloated in my life. No more sunchokes for me! Darn.
 
pollinator
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It might be a problem of too much too soon. You may need to acclimate to them. Or you can still grow them and feed them to your animals.
 
steward
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yeah... Sunchokes are a "sometimes" food. I second the recommendation of starting slowly.  Small amounts are probably a good idea until your gut bacteria can adjust to the new starches.  I've never had the gas issue but I never eat sunchokes as a side dish.  I look at them as a condiment more or less like fried onion strings. Good on a salad for sure. 

I probably have  a couple hundred pounds of sunchokes each year.  I feed most of them to pigs and chickens.  My family and I might eat a couple pounds each year.  The main reason I have them is to catch nutrient at the lower areas of my land.  I have them as part of a swale system and a windbreak so what's above ground is just as valuable as what's below ground.  The dead stalks are great to add to the chicken coop bedding or as mulch on annual garden beds.


 
Tyler Ludens
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Craig, do you feed the whole tubers to the chickens, or do you process them in any way?

 
Craig Dobbson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Craig, do you feed the whole tubers to the chickens, or do you process them in any way?




I just throw extra tubers into the next paddock for the chickens.  It's usually an area that's been worked over by pigs, so any tubers that don't get eaten, usually root and grow in the upturned ground.  I chuck them in whole.  
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's great, thanks! 
 
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How much space do I actually need for sunchoke? I bought a pound of the red on amazon,have them in pots waiting to sprout. May be unnecessary but I can't decide where I want them. Do goats find the plants overly delicious? Have to decide if they can grow on my garden fence.
I have 2 lbs. I'm not sure how they will do,I'm in the "Coastal plain"  of NC but just outside of the Sandhills region and a few miles from SC.
I also bought yacon bought did t catch that what  I was ordering were storage tubers rather than the planting ones. Will these not sprout? If so, anybody know where I can buy or trade some from?
 
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I plant sunroots 18" apart in the rows, with 5 feet between rows.
 
Posts: 176
Location: Alberta, zone 3
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I wonder if adding spices or herbs would help with the bloating/gas issue. Like beans with savory?! I am thinking fennel, savory, juniper, etc. that aids digestion...
Anybody experienced with that?
 
Libbie Hawker
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Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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I'd definitely be willing to grow them as bird food! Sounds like they'd be great for that purpose. They sure are pretty.
 
Posts: 16
Location: West-central Pennsylvania
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Noob to the forum. Hello all.
Had a red, knobby type Sunchoke back on the farm when I was a kid. The tops grew about 5' to 6' tall, flowered very little. The tubers were sort of knobby, but not grossly knobby. They tasted sweet and nutty raw and Mom never cooked with them. I'd pull them and snack on them in the fall and spring.
Now, years later, I'm on a lot and a half in town, growing three varieties.
I found a feral type along a road in the country several years ago. They grow 12' plus tall with white, straight, smooth tubers about 6" to 8" long and 3/4" to 1" in diameter. They have a very faint turnipy taste, stink when cooked unless they're dried first, then there's no stink, just good flavor. Their flowers are so tough they can't be chewed raw. I boiled 3 quarts this fall, strained the liquid off and made wine. While cooking, they smelled exactly like squash. I just bottled the wine and I'm letting it age. It has a different smell for sure, heavy, musky, what I'd call an earthy smell, not bad, just very different. I also used the left over water from cooking the ones we canned for wine. I was really wondering how that was going to turn out because as the water cooled, it jelled, solid. I had dropped in a few dozen raisins for natural yeast and had stirred them through the water before it jelled. It took about a week and the jell liquified and it began working just fine. Because the inulin breaks down slowly, its still working 3 months later.
I ordered some white knobby ones a year later and I've just started harvesting them all this year. We canned some, just like potatoes, canned some bread and butter pickles (Yum!!) and canned some more with some Taco seasoning (Also Yum!). Their flowers are tender enough to toss in salads and taste just like the roots. These ones grow 5' to 6' tall. The tubers have a slightly sweet, almost regular potato taste.
A year ago I noticed some in a small flower bed in town and bummed three tubers. The people had no idea what they had. I dug them and spread them out this fall. They're red, knobby and larger than the white ones with tops around 6' tall. I haven't sampled them yet. I'm hoping they're like the ones I knew as a kid.
I bought a cheap electric mulcher and chop the tops right back into the plots and turn them in as I dig the tubers.
I'm in west-central Pennsylvania, zone 5, and I'm looking around for more ideas for storing, dehydrating and eating these things!
I also saw an old thread about Sunchokes crowding out brambles and that got me wondering if anyone has tried to crowd out Japanese Knotweed with them? I don't have any on my property, but around town there are several places that have been taken over by Knotweed. A relative's property near here is also being taken over by Knotweed so we may try it out and see how it goes in a couple years, if she wants the Sunchokes that is.
 
pollinator
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I have finally found a way to eat my sunchokes without a gas mask afterwards ;) Fermenting seems to work just fine. Either sliced tubers, or whole, both work. Sliced one are ready in less than a week, for whole ones I had to wait a bit longer. I have used just salted water and some spices.
gru1_3.jpg
[Thumbnail for gru1_3.jpg]
Fermenting sunchokes with spices
 
Posts: 62
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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I'm not seeing Latin names used in this thread, but from my understanding:

Helianthus annuus = Sunflower
Helianthus strumosus = Sunroot
Helianthus tuberosus = Jerusalem Artichoke or Earthpear or Sunchoke(?)

It's probably the English language that fails to make a clear distinction between Helianthus strumosus and Helianthus tuberosus, and they are very alike, but I like to say the Earthpear is a more cultivated, civilised version of a Sunroot. The Sunroot has a wilder set of tubers that are more slender in shape. They are not so easy to harvest. The flower stalks are less tall than that of the Earthpear.
The Earthpear is more common, and understandably so, as it behaves much better. A more compact cluster of tubers that are individually also more compact in shape.

What is also often said is that the Earthpear doesn't bloom so reliably as the Sunroot, but it just so happens that in my first season growing both it were the Earthpears who flowered best, even the ones in a less sunny position. My Sunroots took until October before starting flowering, and that didn't come to much anymore, as October is very late in the season here.
When it comes to taste I can't tell a difference.
Obviously there are differences in varieties when it comes to how they grow. 'Topstar' is the name of the variety of Earthpear I have, 'Aurora Rubin' is the variety of Sunroot I have. 'Topstar' is a very compact grower, 'Aurora Rubin' has red tubers.

I hope I'm not confusing matters with these names, I suspect also commercial growers in some cultures are only using one popularised name?
 
Blaine Clark
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I've been digging into the 'results' of eating Sunchokes because of their inulin and I've stumbled onto little tidbits regarding the balance of flora in the gut and over-all health. In particular I just found this about how gut flora affects the brain and how inulin can alter that balance for the better; Nemechek protocol search on YouTube.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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In my vocabulary, I use the term "sunroot" as a generic description to label  any Helianthus species that produces tubers. I also use "sunroot" to describe the inter-species hybrids.
 
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Love them  had some a few years and  3 years ago they died out in mid season. So after couple years a small patch of about 3 last year popped up in an another part of my garden in the asparagus patch so needless to say I replanted every tuber I could find but now they also popping up all over it going to be a  very interesting year for them this year.
 
Dan Boone
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I found a nifty article on sunroots (I am a convert to Joseph's preferred terminology) in the December 1846 issue of The Southern Planter, with especial emphasis on their value as a fodder crop for raising hogs:

For the Southern Planter. JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE.

Mr. Editor, — In your paper (the Southern Planter, Vol. III. No. 4, page 1,) is an article on the cultivation and value of the Jerusalem Artichoke, (Heleanthus Tuberosus.) If you have that paper I would like for you to publish it again in the Southern Planter, and state under the piece that I have a crop of them now growing and if any person wishes to give them a trial they can be supplied with seed any time between now and the next spring. They may be planted any time from now until the first of March. For the information of those who are not acquainted with them, and perhaps might suppose that they are the common round artichoke growing generally in this section of country, I would state that they are quite a different root, resembling the Spanish or sweet potato and the color of the yam potato. I have for several years wished to procure seed, but have been unable until last winter to do so. A gentleman living in Nash county, North Carolina, brought a small quantity from Tennessee a few years back, in his carriage ; from them he raised a crop, whence I got mine. I have been told that they are much prized in Tennessee and Alabama for their great profit in raising and fattening hogs. If they be of so much value in those countries where corn is raised so plentifully and sells so low, of how much more value ought they to be in this country where corn is so much dearer. The artichoke is the easiest crop to 1 cultivate of any that is made by ploughing and hoeing — and after they are made there is no risk in losing, for the place where they grow is the best to preserve them through the winter, and turning the hogs on them, saves the trouble of digging.

Very respectfully,

Nath'l Mason. Summit Depot, Northampton, N. C.

In compliance with this request, we re-publish the following :

"From the fact, that many inquiries have been made of late in relation to this very remarkable and useful plant, I am disposed to speak a few things of its culture and uses. — The Jerusalem artichoke is a native of the warmer parts of America, and of course was unknown in Europe till after the discoveries in this country by Columbus and his coadjutors. Since that time it has been cultivated to consi- derable extent on the continent as well as in Great Britain, but the reports of its profits have considerably varied, in that, as well as this country. In the Old World some have culti- vated it to afford shade to the game ; others have converted the stocks and leaves into fodder for cattle, and others again, have encouraged its growth for the tubers alone. In this country there are two important objects to be kept in mind in raising artichokes; 1st. The improvement of land ; 2dly. The use of the tubers. — However, the first matter is the cultivation, and I begin with

1. Soil. --  Almost any kind of land will produce artichokes, and it is remarkable, that they will grow in the shade, that is, under trees, or in fence corners very well indeed. Land, how- ever, with a tolerably good sandy mould will give the most abundant crop. Low, wet, soils, and very tenacious clay are not so suitable.

2. Preparation of Land. — The ground should be broken as for corn, that is to say, one good, deep ploughing, and a thorough harrowing will answer the purpose admirably.

3. Laying Out. — Rows laid off four feet each way with a bull's tongue or shovel plough, in most soils, will be the proper distance.

4. Quantity of Seed. — From four to five bushels will be required to the acre, and unless the long roots are broken to pieces of three or four joints, or eyes each, this quantity will not be enough.

5. Manner of Planting. — Drop one root at each cross of the plough and cover from one to two or three inches with a harrow, hoe, or plough.

6. Cultivation. — So soon as the young plants appear, run round them, with a cultivator, har- row or light plough to destroy the young weeds, and loosen the earth. Keep the ground free of weeds and open to the influence of the atmosphere, till the plants are about three feet high, when they should be laid by, by the use of a cultivator; or in the absence of a cultivator and when the land has been ploughed, the harrow should pass both ways to leave the ground loose and the surface level. Generally, about the same cultivation given to corn will answer well for artichokes.

7. Digging. — This is the most troublesome job in the management of this crop ; and if the hoe is the dependance, the labor will be very tedious. The better plan, is to lay off a land as for breaking up the ground, so soon as the frost has killed the under leaves of the stocks. The plough should run from six to nine inches deep and let the hands, big and little, pass di- rectly after the plough, to pick up, that none of the roots may be covered by the next furrow.

8. Yield. — The produce to the acre is va- riously estimated from five hundred to one thou- sand bushels, and it is probable the turn out on medium land would be nearer the latter than the former.

9. Uses. — In England and other parts of Europe, the tubers have been considered quite a delicacy for man, and without doubt they make the most beautiful pickle. But their chief importance, in this respect, is their use in feeding hogs. From the middle of October to the middle of November, the hogs may be turned on the artichokes, and with salt always in troughs to which they can have access, they will grow T and thrive till next spring, particularly, if the ground is not too hard for rooting. I have not experimented to ascertain the quantity of hogs to the acre of good artichokes; but from the observation of two seasons, I am of the opinion twenty head will do well on an acre for months. As some have complained their hogs would not root after them, it may be necessary, as hogs, like men, know not much before learning, that they be taught to root after them. This is clone, by calling the hogs after a plough that will throw out the roots, till the grunters learn their habitation, which will re- quire but a very short time.

10. Improvement of Land. — As the stocks grow from ten to fifteen feet in height, and have thick, porous foliage, much of the food of the plant is received from the atmosphere, and thereby the soil is not so heavily taxed as by other crops, the ground is protected from the killing rays of the sun and the stocks and leaves fall and rot very soon, — these advantages, with the manure from hogs, afford the cheapest, and amongst the richest coats in my knowledge. — It is my conviction, (in the absence of long experience) that artichokes in summer, and hogs in winter, will enrich our poor lands cheaper and much better than upon any other plan. To be sure, a farmer cannot have all his land in ar- tichokes, but every one should have enough to support his hogs through the winter, and I venture those who give this crop a fair trial, will reluctantly abandon it.

11. General Remarks. — A few farmers of my acquaintance have informed me, that they have succeeded with corn and artichokes together, and it is highly probable this will prove a successful mode of cultivating these two crops; but on the system of 1 one thing at a time,' we would prefer each crop separately. Some have supposed the second year's growth on the same ground would be more valuable than the first ; but this is a mistake. The plants grow so thick the second year, that not more than half a crop can be anticipated. It might answer, to plough out rows and cultivate the second year ; but the practice of putting artichoke lands in something else the second year, is the plan 1 much prefer.

Amongst the arguments which might be used in favor of this crop, it should not be forgotten, that there is no labor of digging, but for seed ; that more troublesome weeds and grasses are completely smothered out ; and last, but not least, the young plants the second year are more easily subdued than almost any weeds known. Take artichokes, all in all, I think them worthy the attention of every farmer who wishes to enrich his lands, or raise his pork with a small outlay of grain. T. F.

 
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