If you would have asked me 10 years ago what a Jerusalem Artichoke plant was, I probably could not have told you. Truthfully, if I had seen a picture of the tubers, I would have thought I wouldn’t eat them anyway.
Interestingly enough, along my Homesteading and Prepper journey, I have evolved so much. Changing my food tastes and what I prefer has become a huge part of that. Flash forward 10 years and now they are one of my favorite plants to grow and I consider them the ultimate “prepping plant.” I now enjoy eating foods that will sustain me for long periods of time and whole foods that are healthier for me and my family.
Growing Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem Artichokes (also known as sunchokes) are highly invasive, as invasive as, if not more so than, mint, in my opinion. The really amazing thing is they produce tons of tubers, have fairly good nutritional value, and are so easy to grow they thrive on neglect. Many gardeners just put them in the back of the garden and forget them.
This fact was not lost on the Native Americans who planted them along the trails they traveled so they would always have a food source available.
To cook up for a meal we typically clean them and peel them like we would ginger. They are knobby, so it’s not always easy. We slice them up and roast them usually in the oven with an oil such as ghee or coconut oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic. Our entire family loves this dish it is so delicious and another little known fact that I love about Jerusalem Artichokes is they can replace potatoes in just about any recipe and since they take on the taste of whatever it is cooked in it disguises very easily.
As far as cooking goes, they are fairly easy to prepare as well. My husband and I even made homemade wine with them. It’s quite good, I must say. People are often quite surprised to find out they are drinking essentially juice from “Jerusalem Artichokes” in their glass of wine, but they usually ask for another glass!
- If you eat them when they are fresh, they do not cause a spike in blood sugar like potatoes will because they have a low glycemic index score.
- They lower blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium in your body. I definitely consider this tuber to be part of the “whole foods” category and an item I feel good about feeding my family.
- Jerusalem Artichokes have inulin in them and some web articles view them as a pre-biotic. Both of these qualities make it a good food choice for folks with digestive issues.
I have lots of plans for our Jerusalem Artichokes for this next harvest season. A few of the recipes I have not yet made but plan to try include:
- Scalloped Jerusalem Artichokes
- Jerusalem Artichoke Shepherds Pie
- Jerusalem Artichokes Stir Fry
- Root Vegetable Mashed Potatoes
Part of what makes this edible tuber so fascinating is that the sky is the limit with what you can do to them, and they grow abundantly, even on my lil’ suburban homestead.
Whether you have a huge spread or a small city lot, you can grow these along your back fence as they are extremely versatile. Some people are surprised to see how tall the Jerusalem Artichoke plant gets. I know I was – they can grow to 8 to 15 feet tall!
The tubers can be harvested for a while after the plants flower and fall over. I prefer to harvest them up until spring so they are fresh and loaded with inulin which is the best time to keep the glycemic index score lower on these beauties!
If you are new to gardening, do not avoid this crop. Getting your hands on the tubers initially can be a little more pricey, but the initial investment will pay off in dividends. Embrace the fact that your garden will be home to the ultimate “Prepping Plant” to feed your family easily, healthfully, and in a large quantity.
Have you grown Jerusalem Artichokes before? What did you like about them or not? What would you recommend to others who are just starting out? What is your favorite dish to make with this crop that I consider to be indispensable to my edible garden?
Happy Growing & Prepping from my homestead to yours!