My grandfather Jack had many wonderful things in his garden. He died many, many years ago but some of his vegetables live on. We have his fartichokes (I mean artichokes) in our food forest. I suspect we will have them until the end of time!!
They are such a great, incredibly easy to grow vegetable, it’s a wonder more of us don’t grow them. They are very low maintenance and don’t go all sulky if not harvested from one year to the next.
Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichokes) are a variety of sunflower native to North America. They are otherwise known as Sunroots, Sunchokes or Earth Apples. The flowers are finer looking than the other sunflowers we grow but they grow every bit as tall as the giant ones. I guess the climate here in Martinborough is similar to Marlborough where Grandad lived so I shouldn’t be surprised they do well. Our bees and other beneficial insects love the flowers, so we leave those on the plants, rather than chopping them off to make bushier plants.
The tubers grow in just about any soil. We have some planted in washing machine inners (because we can, and also it stops them migrating) but we also have some that must have walked all by themselves, and are now growing between two grapefruit bushes. Don’t plant too many though – one tuber will produce about 15 or so tubers.
We started harvesting last week after the first frost but one of their advantages is that they’re quite happy left in the ground until you need them. If your ground tends to freeze, you can mulch with straw or grass clippings to ensure that you can extend the harvest period.
If you’ve got a permanent place to plant them, you don’t need to dig them all up each year. We try to remove as many as possible and replant the best looking ones
Now to the good bit – eating Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, a carbohydrate that feeds your gut bacteria. It’s part of the reason why this vegetable is low in calories. The less desirable side effect to this is that it also causes wind, hence calling this recipe, “Fartichoke soup”.
750 g artichokes (scrubbed)
2T oil (second measure)
1 diced onion
1 clove crushed garlic
3 sprigs thyme and 2 sprigs of rosemary, tied together
3 cups of stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Nuts, yogurt, more rosemary for serving
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Drizzle the artichokes with the first measure of oil. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the artichokes. Roast for 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the second measure of oil over medium heat, and add the onion, the garlic, a pinch of salt. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the stock, the artichokes and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Whizz with a hand blender is mash with a potato masher until it is the consistency of soup.
Serve with chopped nuts, yogurt, and a sprinkle of fresh rosemary leaves.