Yes, it’s that time again — time for Hank’s favorite tuber, the Jerusalem artichoke! Or, as I like to call them, “fartichokes” for the explosive gas most people get when eating this earthy little nuggets.
This year’s crop is entirely unwanted. Sunchokes, as they are also known, are invasive and indigenous to North America, so you need to work hard to eradicate them once planted. These you see above are volunteers that grew along the side of my house that were never watered. Not once. And do I need to remind everyone we’re in a drought? Tough little buggers.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the taste of sunchokes, probably too much. They are crunchy and a little sweet when raw — a little like a water chestnut or jicama. They make a nice salad when paired with Fuyu persimmons. Sunchokes cook up like potatoes, although they go to mush faster, and make a great puree. You can also slice them thin and fry them like potato chips — these taste great. But oh, the farts!
Eating sunchokes is like swallowing a tornado: The whirlwind wants to escape, and when it does it rips through you with a roar. You can’t stop it — you can only hope to contain it. Inulin is the culprit. Most people cannot digest it properly, and alas, I am, in this case at least, most people.
There is a solution, however. I have found one way to prepare sunchokes that doesn’t leave me windy: Pickle them. Yes, Jerusalem artichoke pickles are the way to go. They’re crunchy, sweet-and-sour, a little spicy, and best of all, you only eat a few at a time so no one suffers any ill effects!
My recipe for sunchoke pickles uses a lot of turmeric for color — I like the yellow nuggets — as well as sugar and white wine vinegar. You could alter the flavors to suit you.
The key here is size. Use small tubers, or slice larger ones into pieces no larger than 1/2 inch across. You want nuggets, not chunks. This will make sure you have sunchokes that are crunchy all the way through. Larger ones get punky and soft in the middle.
If you want to properly can these, give them a 15-minute hot water bath. If not, keep them in the fridge. Canned they will last a year; dunno about the fridge. Either way, leave them for 3 weeks before eating.
That’s what I do with tornado tubers. What do you do?