If you’re like me, you were in your mid-thirties before you had the pleasure of eating a Jerusalem artichoke. Also known as sunchokes, sunroots, or earth apples, these tubers are often used in soups, stews, or served roasted as a side dish. Though not as widely known as that other famous tuber, the potato, they’re equally delicious.
Jerusalem artichoke cultivation traces back to the Native Americans, who used it as a trading tool. Natives also turned settlers on to the tuber, who shipped it back to Europe, where it was commercialized. Though the sunchoke would later fall into obscurity here in the states, it would see a resurgence in popularity in the eighties and nineties.
Some more fun facts about the Jerusalem artichoke:
- It doesn’t actually come from Jerusalem! Some theorize that Puritans, who regarded America as “New Jerusalem”, were responsible for the name.
- Because it contains fructose, it’s recommended for Type 2 diabetics.
- They contain inulin instead of starch, and, as such, are used as a source of a dietary fiber for food manufacturing.
- They’re so hardy and easy-to-grow, the plant can sometime ruin a garden if even a small pice of tuber is left in the ground!
- In Germany, over 90% of Jerusalem artichokes are used to produce a liquor called Topinambur. It smells fruity and has a slight nutty-sweet flavor.