Sunchoke, also known as earth apple, sunroot, and Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), is neither native to Jerusalem nor a type of artichoke. They are a member of the sunflower family. Native to North America in the wild and cultivated farms, Native Americans enjoyed eating sunchokes for centuries that can date as early as 1603 according to "The Oxford Companion to Food."
Jerusalem artichoke got its name from its association with early-world European settlers who thought they tasted similarly to artichokes and looked like girasole ("jeer-uh-SOLE-ay") or the Italian word for "sunflower."
What Is Sunchoke?
Sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes are a funny-looking light brown root vegetable that has recently gained attention at farmer's markets across the country. They are very versatile, quick to cook, low calories, low carbohydrate, and high in fiber. It makes them a popular and desirable root vegetable to add to the dinner table.
With a delicate and artichoke-like unique flavor but look nothing like artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes are a knobby-looking root vegetable that looks very similar to ginger. And just like other ginger and other root vegetables, they have paper-thin skin and a creamy white interior.
What does sunchoke taste like?
Raw sunchokes have a sweet and nutty flavor like water chestnuts and jicama. Their unique taste and texture make sunchoke a fantastic addition to many foods, and they are a particularly great substitute for potato and other root veggies for people with diabetes.
What Are the Health Benefits of Sunchoke?
Packed in Vitamins and Minerals
Sunchokes are a great source of niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Sunchoke has a small trace of antioxidants like carotenes. Combined with the vitamins, it can help scavenge harmful free radicals and offer you protection.
Packed with Inulin
Unlike most root vegetables, sunchokes store their carbohydrates in the form of inulin instead of starch. Inulin is prebiotic, which means our digestive enzymes can not break down inulin, so it has a minimal impact on blood sugar and does not raise triglycerides. But it provides food for microbes in the intestines to encourage good gut flora.
The downside of inulin is that too much insulin can produce gas and bloat in sensitive people, and cooking sunchokes well can minimize this effect. And because of this reason, the Jerusalem artichoke has come to be known by another, darker name: the "Fartichoke."
Sunchoke is packed in both soluble and insoluble fibers! There are many health benefits when you consume dietary fiber. It includes promoting a healthy weight, reducing cholesterol, reducing constipation problems, adding bulk to the digestive tract, promoting blood sugar control, and so much more!
Even though sunchoke is sweet, it is low in calories. A 150g artichoke has 109 calories, which is lower in calories than a 150g potato.
Lower Glycemic Index
Sunchoke has a lower glycemic index score than potatoes, thanks to their starchy fiber that stops any spikes in blood sugar level. This makes sunchoke an ideal sweetener for diabetics and dietetics.
Sunchokes are available year-round, with a peak season in the fall to early spring. You can find fresh farm harvest at your local farmers market from October to May.
- Cooking: Sunchokes oxidize when exposed to air, just like apples or potatoes. To prevent this, toss with lemon juice before cooking.
- Buying: When picking out sunchokes, you'll want to select those that are firm with no black spots or noticeable blemishes for the best cooking results. The older the sunchoke, the sponger they get. Spongy is not a yummy sunchoke quality.
- Storage: Store them on the counter for a week or in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Must handle with care as they will bruise easily.
- Preparing: Like potatoes, sunchoke can be served with or without the skin – scrub clean and leave it on for the maximum nutritional benefit.
How to Cook Sunchoke/ Jerusalem artichoke
Sunchoke can be eaten raw and can be served raw. They are the perfect addition to raw and fresh recipes. You can serve them along with your favorite vegetables and use them as healthy dippers. And because they do have a crunchy texture, some add them to a slaw. Raw artichoke will turn brown when it's exposed to the air like an apple or sliced potato. To prevent this, you can put them in water or lemon water.
Sunchoke can be roasted like a potato. Toss them with olive oil and salt, roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, or slow roast at 325 to 350 degrees for about one hour to one and half hours until it's lightly caramelized and fork-tender.
To boil sunchoke, bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil and place the sunchoke in. Cover and cook until crisp-tender. This process can take up to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your sunchoke.
You can place boiled sunchoke and mash it with a masher. Add some salt and pepper, and it's ready to be served. You can mesh it as is or mash it with potatoes.
You can place boiled sunchoke in a food processor and eat it in butter and cream.
To saute Jerusalem artichokes, slice them into cubes or slices. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat up some olive oil and add in the Jerusalem artichokes. Stir occasionally until they start to brown.
How To Select Sunchoke
When selecting sunchoke/ Jerusalem artichoke, look for smooth surfaces and firm tubers. Avoid sprouted, greenish colors, black spots, blemish, or bruised roots. For less scrubbing and prep time, choose less knobby ones.
How To Clean Sunchoke
Wash the tubers thoroughly in cold water with gentle scrubbing. The peel is perfectly fine to eat and can be peeled or not. If the Jerusalem artichokes are scrubbed well, peeling may be avoided. But, if you would like to peel it, you can remove the skin with a vegetable peeler.
How To Storage Sunchoke
You can store sunchoke in the refrigerator by wrapping it in a paper towel and placing it in the vegetable drawer for up to three weeks.
Sunchoke can be placed in the freezer, canned, and picked, but not the ideal candidates due to discoloration and change in texture.
To freeze Jerusalem artichokes, it's best to blanch them in boiling water and then ice water. Then place them in an air-tight freezer bag.