Jerusalem Artichokes are one of the easiest plants to grow, just bury a piece of root in soil and it will grow. Better growth will of course be obtained given the right conditions. So in this post I’ll tell you all I know about Jerusalem Artichokes, What they are, where they come from and of course how to grow them.
What Are Jerusalem Artichokes?
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus Tuberosus ) is a perennial plant which grows to a height of 10 ft. The flowers look like small Sunflowers, and are grown for their edible root.
Many names are attributed to this genus including :-
- Earth Apples
- Jerusalem Artichoke
They originate from the North American continent where they were first cultivated by Native Americans long before Europeans inhabited the continent.
Jerusalem Artichokes are not from Jerusalem and they’re not Artichokes.
Why the confusing name then?
This member of the sunflower family played a vital role in feeding the Native Americans and then once the Europeans arrived they too were interested in this vital root.
The “Jerusalem” bit is due to Italian immigrants in America calling them “Girasole”- Italian for Sunflower. which over the years evolved into Jerusalem.
Artichoke because the French explorer Samuel De Champlain sent samples back to France and described them as similar in flavour to Artichokes.
Over the years Jerusalem Artichokes became popular in Europe whilst losing favour in America, although popularity is increasing in the USA in recent times.
A Word Of Warning About Jerusalem Artichokes
These tubers are very prolific. If just a small piece is left in the soil, it will grow. So think before you plant, as once sown you’ll be hard pushed to completely remove them.
There is a compound contained in these which creates wind, which is responsible for giving them the nickname “Fartichokes”.
Sunchokes contain many vitamins and minerals.Artichokes also contain protein, are low in fat and have a high concentration of the carbohydrate Inulin.
When stored the Inulin in the Artichokes turns to fructose this makes them very popular with type 2 diabetics, because Fructose is a much healthier sugar for type 2 diabetics.
How To Grow Jerusalem Artichokes
The tubers will grow in pretty much any soil however they will produce bigger tubers if grown in free draining soil. The first thing to remember is don’t plant too many. They multiply at such a rate that 5 or 6 should be plenty.
- Sow the tubers in early Spring about 6 inches deep and about 12 inches apart.
- Water during dry spells
- Stake well as these plants can grow to 10 ft
- Earth up to prevent wind rock
- Harvest from late October
- Leave in the ground until ready to eat
- Mulch well to protect from freezing
Once lifted the tubers will only store for about 2 weeks so it’s best to leave them in the ground until needed.
What do Jerusalem Artichokes taste like?
Described as potato like, with a creamy, smokey,and nutty flavour that’s quite unique. Give them a try I promise you won’t be disappointed. As they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/feb/02/food-and-drink-soup