Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes, are a member of the sunflower family and are a native plant to North America. I love growing native foods and reintroducing them to our area’s cusine.
The benefits of growing natives verses some of our better known grocery store varieties is that we are stewarding the natural indigenous biodiversity in our ecosystem. Growing native plants encourages the natural, native foodweb right down to the beneficial insects and microbes we need to battle against the many invasive pests that are entering our environment through globalization and world trade of food and plants.
Sunchokes provide a healthy carbohydrate for those that have diabetes being high in fiber and inulin. They are also high in iron, thiamine and potassium.
My theory is that if a native is living here, that is less room for a non native to invade. It doesn’t always work out that way, because over the decades I have seen invasive pests wipe out some of our beloved native plants in a devastating way. Right now our farm is dealing with the absolute destruction of another Asian pest, the emerald ash borer. This is yet another reason to support local, sustainable and conscientious producers of your food.
What I like to do with our sunchokes is peel and roast them with some olive oil, sea salt, garlic and rosemary in the oven for about 20 minutes at 425. This gives the sunchokes a wonderfully crisp outer skin and a nice, nutty, soft center.
Here is a recipe for a creamy sunchoke soup:
1 pound Sunchokes
2 medium potatoes
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tarter
3 strips of bacon,diced or cut into matchsticks
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, hot (if you don’t have quite enough stock on hand, make up for the difference using water)
freshly ground black pepper
a small bunch fresh chives, snipped, for garnish
Start by peeling the sunchokes and potato and cube into 1 inch pieces. place in a pot of water covering the vegetables. Add baking soda and cream of tarter and bring the water to a boil. Sunchokes are high in iron, so they may turn brown when exposed to air, I like to keep them covered in water the whole time while preparing the soup.
Brown the bacon in a soup pot and adding the garlic. Add the stock and heat to a boil. Drain the sunchokes and potato water and add the vegetables to the soup pan with the bacon, garlic and stock. Puree the entire mixture and serve with fresh chives and black pepper as garnish.
I am making more of our wonderful pasta with our semolina and duram flour this week. I still have some preserves from the summer gardens and I have cheese and yogurt, beef, chicken, and our first micros of the season too. We hope to see you either at the farm or at Moutnatin City Traditional Arts on Saturday!