Sunchokes, AKA Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus),
are a wonderful addition to any homestead garden. They are a root veggie, which means they grow from the root itself. Each little choke will develop roots that will create several more chokes each year.
Here are some of the main reasons you need to grow sunchokes in your garden!
(keep in mind you can also forage for these delicious tubers as they grow in the wild!)
Sunchokes are easy to plant.
Simply place a tuber piece in the ground, about 3 inches deep, and cover with dirt. This is best done in the fall, but we have also spread them in the Spring. Once planted, let them grow! In the late summer and early fall, they will have beautiful flowers that look very similar to small sunflowers. Our bees love this food source, particularly as other sources are dying off.
Sunchokes can stay in the ground until you are ready to use them.
When you are ready to harvest sunchokes, you will simply take a shovelful of dirt and turn it up. You’ll get a handful of chokes nearly every time. We harvest ours only as we need them, even in the winter. Just mark where you left off, and start there the next time you harvest. Carefully wash the tuber, and remove any extra roots. Allow to dry a bit, then you are ready to use them!
Sunchokes will spread for you.
When harvesting, just leave a couple behind to let them regrow. One tuber will turn into many the next season, making this an easy garden veggie to grow. It’s almost impossible to kill them, really.
Sunchokes are delicious and healthy for you.
Sunchokes taste a bit like a starchier potato, without all the heavy carbs. They contain about the same amount of calories, 73 per 100g, with nearly zero fat. Sunchokes boast a high level of potassium, iron, and copper. 100 g of fresh root holds 429 mg of potassium. They also contain 3.4 mg iron, probably the highest amount of this trace element among the common edible roots and tubers. Sunchokes also contain small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and vitamin-E. Besides all of this, they are a great source of fiber!
Some things to keep in mind when planting sunchokes in your garden:
They will take over the area. Keep them contained as much as possible, and harvest the outside edges first to help prevent spreading.
Sunchokes can be used in nearly any recipe as a replacement for potatoes. They have a very similar texture to white potatoes and are tasty baked, grilled, or pan fried. Sunchokes also have a distinct flavor that can be easily transitioned to from their potato alternative. Try mixing 1/2 sunchokes and 1/2 white potatoes in a mashed form for a gradual change.