As a Chef and avid gardener, I just love growing things, but it’s become ‘The Day of The Triffids’ in the vegetable plot in Wildes Meadow. Towering green giants are bursting into bloom and casting vast shadows across the garden and on the verge of marching across the countryside, not to mention the semi-trailer load of artichokes under the soil they’ll leave behind…It’s indeed time to get the cookbooks out and decide what I’m going to do with 10 ton of produce that’s just about to invade the sleepy village of Wildes Meadow…
please read on…
Pictured below are the giant green invaders in my vegetable plot, it’s time to lock up your children, board up the windows, and dig in as the Triffids are planning a total takeover of Wildes Meadow…
…just pulling your leg, they’re just Jerusalem Artichokes – but what are Jerusalem Artichokes anyway? Well they’re certainly not from Jerusalem…
…or from the film the ‘Day of the Triffids’. These humble giants produce a tuba (no not the one you play silly) but a scrumptious rough and ready Potato that’s delicious to eat.
Here goes, a Jerusalem artichoke is a bumpy, fleshy looking root vegetable, it has a nice nutty flavour, is rich in starch and eaten much the same as a Potato is in many parts of Western Europe and the Mediterranean. You might say its a rough and ready tatty!
However, this little fella should not be confused with the Globe Artichoke, which is an edible flower bud (just don’t let it flower). Evidently the name of this vegetable is widely misunderstood too as “The Artichokes From Jerusalem”- Wrong!! This is a misinterpretation from the Italian girasole carciofi, translated this is the sunflower artichoke in English. So, some of the common names are sunroot, sunchoke, topinambur etc.
Oh, if you want to get technical, the Scientific name is, wait for it : Helianthus tuberosus.
Now, to eating them – my mate Jamie Oliver has a ripper of a recipe. So I’m sharing it with you here, as this is what I’m going to do with them at home and suggest to the team @McVittygrove we serve them on the menu. I’m going to jar them too through 1910 as a short run offering, hey, you can jar new potatoes why not ‘Sunroots’? (Jerusalem Artichokes)
Method – Over to Jamie…
- Jerusalem artichokes are sweet and almost garlicky and mushroomy and gorgeous. Although called artichokes they’re actually tubers – like rough and ready potatoes. You can scrub and roast them whole like mini jacket potatoes and split them open, drizzled with a little chilli oil. You can even use them in a salad with smoky bacon. A Jerusalem artichoke’s best friends are sage, thyme, butter, bacon, bay, cream, breadcrumbs, cheese and anything smoked.
- To serve 4, you will need 600g/1lb 6oz of Jerusalem artichokes. Peel them, then cut them into chunks. Place them in an oiled frying pan and fry on a medium heat until golden on both sides, then add a few bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced, a splash of white wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and place a lid on top. After about 20 to 25 minutes they will have softened up nicely and you can remove the lid and the bay leaves. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes to crisp the artichoke slices up one last time, then serve straight away. Personally, I think they go well with both meat and fish and are particularly good in a plate of antipasti, or in soups or warm salads.
“I love these crispy pan-fried Jerusalem artichokes with meat and
fish or even in a warm salad ” Jamie Oliver.
Here are the health benefits of Jerusalem artichokes –
- Jerusalem artichoke is moderately high in calories; provides about 73 calories per 100 g, roughly equivalent to that of potatoes. The root has negligible amounts of fat and contains zero cholesterol. Nevertheless, its high-quality phytochemical profile comprises of dietary fibre (non-starch carbohydrates), and antioxidants, in addition to small proportions of minerals, and vitamins.
- It is one of the finest sources of dietary fibres, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin, which is a soluble non-starch polysaccharide. Inulin should not be confused for insulin, which is a hormone. The root provides 1.6 mg or 4% of fibre. Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine and inert carbohydrate which does not undergo metabolism inside the human body, and thereby; make this tuber an ideal sweetener for diabetics and dietetics.
- Soluble as well as insoluble fibres in this tuber add up to the bulk of food by retaining moisture in the gut. Studies suggest that adequate roughage in the diet helps reduce constipation problems. Dietary Fibres also offer some protection against colon cancers by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
- The tuber contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A, vitamin-E. These vitamins, together with flavonoid compound like carotenes, helps scavenge harmful free radicals and thereby offers protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.
- Further, Jerusalem artichokes are an excellent source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, and copper. 100 g of fresh root holds 429 mg or 9% of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte which brings reduction in the blood pressure and heart rate by countering pressing effects of sodium.
- 100 g of fresh sunchoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of this trace element among the common edible roots and tubers.
- It also contains small levels of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin.