Despite their name, Jerusalem artichokes are not artichokes at all! They are a member of the sunflower family, and so at times they are more fittingly referred to as sunchokes. Slightly nutty and sweet, Jerusalem artichokes offer a delicious break from traditional side dishes and are often the main attraction to an entrée. Tired of roasted potatoes? Not as starchy, these tubers make an interesting potato substitute for baking, sautéing, and stir-frying. You can even enjoy Jerusalem artichokes raw, on salads, puréed in soup, and pickled!
Packed full of vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, B1, B3, and phosphorus, they help boost energy, absorb nutrients, and repair cells. For those seeking iron-rich foods, Jerusalem artichokes contain three times more iron per serving than broccoli.
Jerusalem artichokes don’t look anything like typical globe artichokes, which are green with spiky leaves. Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes, are tubers, so they look more like a colorful potato or ginger root. Often reddish-brown with ribbons of ivory, they’re about 3 to 5 inches long.
You’re likely to find them in the specialty produce section at the grocery.
Slightly sweet, a bit nutty, but not too obtrusive, Jerusalem artichokes will liven up most dishes with a distinctive flavor.
Jerusalem artichokes are widely available in major supermarkets and specialty stores during peak season. Farmers’ markets might also have a good selection of locally grown tubers.
Available in most areas all year long, peak season for sweeter flavor is October through March, both in the US and Europe.
Choose firm tubers with consistent reddish-brown and ivory variations in color.
The artichokes won’t be smooth, but make sure they are free of nicks and cuts. Also avoid vegetables that have soft spots, cuts, blemishes, or mold, as that’s indicative of overripeness.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen”. These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides. Jerusalem artichokes don’t appear on any EWG list, so the non-organic version is not likely to be strongly affected by pesticides.
Store unwashed Jerusalem artichokes in a plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper for up to seven days.
You can enjoy Jerusalem artichokes raw, cooked, or pickled. Start by washing the tubers under warm running water, using a vegetable brush as needed to remove residual dirt. The skin is thin and tasty enough not to peel, so removing it is a matter of preference.
Slice, dice, chop, or sliver in preparation for adding to salads, pickling, sautéing, or roasting. You can also purée baked artichokes for soup.
Iron is an essential trace mineral that transports oxygen in red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, aiding energy and endurance.
Thiamine, or vitamin B1, plays an active role in metabolizing carbohydrates into a useable form of energy. B1 also contributes toward proper nerve function and acts as a coenzyme to convert ketones into other coenzymes necessary for cell metabolism.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
Provides structural support to DNA and RNA, works with calcium in the formation of tooth enamel and bone, helps to filter wastes out of the kidneys, and regulates energy. Phosphorus also plays an integral role in cardiovascular health and repairing cells and tissues throughout the body.
Another energy-producing vitamin, niacin is responsible for transporting energy and metabolizing glucose within the cell. This vitamin may be helpful for regulating blood sugar after a carbohydrate-heavy meal.
You’d have to eat a number of different fruits and vegetables to get the same nutritional impact as that from Jerusalem artichokes. These tubers contain a powerful combination of phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth, niacin for metabolizing energy, and a high level of iron for endurance. Jerusalem artichokes are particularly valuable for vegetarians and vegans, because they provide a similar foundation of protein and iron to meat. Jerusalem artichokes are also considered a prebiotic, which aids intestinal health.
- Jerusalem artichokes aren’t really artichokes. These vegetables are members of the sunflower family, which is why they’re more commonly referred to as sunchokes or sunroots.
- The name “Jerusalem” in Jerusalem artichokes has nothing to do with Israel. It’s believed to originate from the Italian word girasole, which means “spinning sun.”
- Make careful plans if you choose to plant sunchokes in your garden. They can grow up to 10 feet tall, and once established in an area, are difficult to remove.