So quintessentially permaculture – Jerusalem artichokes

A little scrubing before cookingI am in love with Jerusalem artichokes and they’re in full season here at Valley’s end.

We’re having them almost every day in soup, stews and mash, or sautéed and roasted…

My first ever encounter with that odd looking vegetable was at Bistro Moncur in Sydney where Husband invited me for a wedding anniversary.

I knew of them and their infamous notoriety of being a war vegetable and of making people fart a lot, but I figured that if Bistro Moncur Chef was game enough to proudly put it on his menu, then they must be darn good and ‘safe’ for his reputation! And good it was.

I then completely forgot about this vegetable for many years until a year ago when, now blessed with a large veggie patch, I started growing some. I bought a few tubers and oh well they grew!

They surely deserve respect and affection for they are in my view the most quintessentially fine multifunctional Permaculture vegetable.

They are:

  1. Van GoghPacked with healthy properties: low GI great for diabetic, high-quality phyto-nutrients, dietary fibre and antioxidants, high in potassium, iron, and vitamins.
  2. A fine staple food that replace potatoes, pumpkin and flour.
  3. Literally zero maintenance once planted.
  4. Dead easy to plant and harvest.
  5. Zilch preparation prior to cooking.
  6. Can be eaten raw and pickled too.
  7. A fabulous windbreak and shade giving plant.
  8. A perennial plant.
  9. An absolute stunning display of happy sunflowers which bees feast on.
  10. A famous bouquet!

They are certainly many more superlatives to add about Jerusalem Artichokes and certainly their bad reputation of being a ‘fartichoke’ isn’t fair for there is a fail-proof way to ‘remove’ their flatulence-giving properties (and keep your friends!).

“The trick is to parboil (or blanch) them with a few peeled potatoes.
That’s it – nothing more complicated than that.”

For those interested in the reason why they carry such a flatulence-giving reputation, is that we humans don’t have the enzymes responsible for properly digesting inulin, an oligo-fructose dietary fibre which is the main culprit for their bad reputation. Potatoes are said to have those enzymes hence by cooking them together Jerusalem artichoke become more digestible.

Another method that I heard of was with pickling. I am yet to try it. Will report back when I do.

As for being a war vegetable, well there is a simple reason – potatoes were requisitioned during World War II so people with a small garden started growing Jerusalem Artichokes. The Germans probably had never seen them before (they’re from North America) and therefore did not requisition them.

tried and tested Recipes

Roast Jerusalem artichoke soup

Sautéed Jerusalem artichokes

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