Monday, June 14, 2010

Helianthus tuberosus

What do potatoes, artichokes and sunflowers all have in common? They are all ways I have heard sunchokes described. Heliantus tuberosus, known commonly as sunchoke or Jerusalem artichokes, is a type of perennial sunflower, with a tall stock that grows in the summer and blooms with a yellow flower, smaller than that of the common sunflower Helianthus annuus.

Sunchoke plants at the Coupeville Farmers Market on Saturay (Photo by Sierra Young)

After the stock dies back it grows tubers underground, like potatoes, to store carbohydrates through the winter. Those tubers can be broken off the main root of the plant and harvested all winter long. The plant gets the name Jerusalem artichoke because of its sweet nutty flavor, akin to artichokes.

Sunchokes have a crisp texture when raw and make a tasty addition to a salad. They can also be treated just like potatoes when cooking: au gratin, boiled, added to soups and casserols, you name it.

Post by Sierra Young

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