Jerusalem artichoke

On the culinary herblist, Mar97,

by Henriette

Closely related to the sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) has other funny names, too, like Topinambur (in Germany). A tidbit from Grieve: the English common name comes from the Italian 'Girasola articiocco', or Sunflower Artichoke, -not- from Jerusalem.

A 1 - 1.5 m (3-6') tall perennial, it can be planted anywhere with just a piece of tuber. In fact, that's what I did when I first encountered it: it was in a corner of the garden I had earmarked for other things, and so I dug it up and placed it in the new spot. Didn't take long for it to come up, in both places. After that I tried to eradicate it for some time, but all I got was yummy pieces of tuber. Nice yellow flowers, up high; these never flopped on me. Very frosthardy.

Used parts: the tuber. Dig it up in fall, or whenever an old plant is in an annoying place - young plants don't have very much to harvest.

Use as a veggie, ie. scrub, boil, (peel), add some salt and butter, eat. You can preserve it by letting it stay where it grows, or by drying it (those slices are delicious as snacks) (has anybody canned it?). Tastes a bit like genuine artichoke (Cynara whatever).

Leaf and flowers have been used medicinally.

The tubers contain inulin, which is an insoluble sugar. This has nothing whatsoever to do with insulin, and the Jerusalem artichoke tubers are famous for giving gas to susceptible people. (This is not so much a problem with dandelion, burdock or elecampane roots, which also contain loads of inulin).

It's a 'mercan plant, so give. I only have word of mouth, books, and my own experiences - you folks should have history, tall tales and scary stories.