It’s been a long, cold winter. Having endured the teasing of the sun occasionally poking through the clouds only to be followed with more snow, more wind and more cold, I was happy to snatch a little ball of sun from the produce market. Actually, a little ball of sunchoke. Also known as the Jerusalem artichoke, which is neither from Jerusalem, nor an artichoke, the sunchoke is one of the few tubers to have originated in North America where it was first cultivated by Native Americans. Ironically it had to travel the world before enjoying a resurgence in popularity at home. Upon discovering the sunchoke, Europeans renamed it the Italian word for sunflower, ‘girasole,’ which was eventually misinterpreted as Jerusalem. The sunchoke has struggled with its identity not only in name, but with its appearance as well. The knobby tubers, which resemble ginger root were believed to cause leprosy as its appearance was similar to the gnarly fingers of those stricken with the disease. But superstitions aside, the sunchoke is reclaiming its name as well as its fame. This low-calorie, high-nutrient tuber is a rich source of iron, thiamine and phosphorus. It also contains Vitamin C, magnesium, niacin, Vitamin B6 and riboflavin. Sunchokes are also a great substitute for white potatoes, making them an ideal food choice for individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Unlike most other tubers, sunchokes do not contain starch, which breaks down into glucose, causing blood sugar fluctuations. Its bumpy shape makes a sunchoke a bit of a challenge to peel. And although it has a lot of crunch, it initially lacks bite, tasting like a whole lot of nothing. But keep crunching and you will detect a sweet, nutty taste similar to sunflower seeds. After all, they are a species of sunflower. Even better, leave the skin on to enjoy a mild smoky, flavour. When eaten raw, sunchokes are delicious in salads, chutney or marinades of lemon, oil and a sprinkling of seasonings. To preserve their crunchy texture when cooking, gently steam sunchokes with their skins on. They can also be sautéed, barbecued and added to soups. With all these great benefits, a sunchoke is sure to brighten your day.
You are here: / / / Here Comes The Sunchoke