Jerusalem artichoke is an ancient vegetable that is reappearing on our market stalls, with good reason: it is delicious!
Key Jerusalem artichoke facts
Name – Helianthus tuberosus
Family – Asteraceae
Type – vegetable, rhizome perennial
Height – 6 to 8 feet (2 to 2.5 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary
Harvest – November to March
From planting to harvest, growing it really isn’t difficult. Jerusalem artichokes will thrill you without a doubt once harvested and in your plate.
Planting and growing Jerusalem artichoke
It’s only possible to start growing Jerusalem artichoke by planting entire, fair-sized tubers. It has the great advantage of growing in all kinds of soil.
Growing Jerusalem artichoke can actually turn to become very invasive. Mark out its allocated space clearly because it tends to spread to other plots fast.
Season for planting Jerusalem artichoke
Plant the tubers preferably during the months of February-March. It’s also possible to plant up until the middle of spring.
Usually, special tubers from garden stores are used for planting. But you can also simply plant normal, store-bought tubers which were actually sold as food.
How to plant correctly plant Jerusalem artichoke
- Jerusalem artichoke grows in normal soil, but produces a more bountiful harvest when manure or manure juice is added.
- Plant them in a row (along a wall, for example). Space each plant by about 32 to 40 inches (80 to 100 cm), because this plant spreads fast.
- Bury the tubers 4 inches (10 cm) deep, laying horizontally in the hole, at a density of about 5½ oz (150 g) per square yard (square meter).
- Cover with soil, don’t press down.
Harvesting your Jerusalem artichoke
You may start harvesting when the plants start blooming. Continue all winter long, collecting just enough for your weekly needs.
Pull the tubers out; leverage them out with a pitchfork, for instance.
Leave whatever Jerusalem artichoke tubers you don’t immediately need in the ground, that’s where they’ll keep the best.
Once dug out, it’s preferable to rinse your Jerusalem artichoke off with soft brush to remove any soil.
This extends keeping since it removes moisture: there’s a high risk of diseases developing if moisture accumulates.
- The most appropriate spot for you to keep your Jerusalem artichoke is a cool, rather dark and dry room.
Jerusalem artichoke in winter
For areas where winters are cold and there’s a high chance of deep freezing, here’s a trick to make harvesting easier.
- Shuffle up a layer of dead leaves before the first frost spells to protect them from the cold.
- This keeps the soil from freezing up.
- If the soil freezes deep down, harvesting will get really difficult, not to say impossible.
- You’d have to wait for the freezing to thaw before being able to dig your spade fork in and lift the Jerusalem artichoke tubers out.
Jerusalem artichoke in the kitchen
Native to North America, great chefs are more likely to be aware of it than the public at large. Indeed, it has a distinct artichoke-like taste. That’s why it’s called Jerusalem Artichoke.
But why Jerusalem? Some say that’s what English-speaking Americans heard when Italian-speaking Americans described the plant: “girasole“. Others contend that the first Pilgrims, who fled political oppression against their religion, were hoping to found a New Jerusalem across the pond. They christened this plant with that name when they saw the Indian Natives grow it.
With high levels of vitamins and very few calories, it will impart 4 times less calories than potatoes. This is the perfect vegetable for your weight-loss diet.
With high levels of minerals and fiber, it will trigger tonic and diuretic activity in your body.
Smart tip about Jerusalem artichoke
Once it has been dug out, eat your Jerusalem artichoke quickly because it won’t keep for very long! Best leave it in the ground until you need it.
Jerusalem artichoke on social media
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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Bushel of Jerusalemn artichoke (also on social media) by F. Delventhal under © CC BY 2.0
Broken pot by Maja Dumat under © CC BY 2.0
Blooms by Roberto Ferrari under © CC BY-SA 2.0