The Jerusalem artichoke looks like a clump of dry weeds in the winter, but there’s treasure underneath.
My Dad and I went out recently to harvest a few for dinner. When Dad dug up the roots, you could see a mass of artichokes underneath. We pulled apart some of the clump, and found more of the artichokes loose in the area where the clump had originally been.
Dad brushed the dirt off of them and took them inside to wash. Once they were washed, and the dirt was carefully scrubbed off while leaving the peal intact because there’s a lot of nutrients in the peal, they were boiled 3 times in fresh water each time. We boiled them three times because if you don’t boil them in fresh water 2-3 times, you’ll have death by gas. Boiling them seems to cut down on the gas drastically.
Gas aside, they have an interesting name. I naturally assumed the first time that I heard of them that they must be from Israel. Nope, guess again. As far as I’ve been able to find out, the Jerusalem artichoke which is also called a sunroot, came from North America and was taken around the world by traders. It’s suspected that it became known as the Jerusalem Artichoke thanks to the Italian word girasole which means turning to the sun. English speakers apparently tried to say what they thought they heard, and came up with Jerusalem artichoke.
They are very good, and can be used to substitute for Irish potatos if you cook them enough. I have heard though that there are some people who even with triple boiling them, still have stomach troubles, so it is best to try just a small amount of them to start with.