Ever heard of a sunchoke? Also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, sunchokes are the tuberous root of a plant in the sunflower family. They don’t come from Jerusalem, and they’re not related to artichokes, and I haven’t been able to find a reference that tells where that name originated in the first place, but there it is.
I have been growing sunchokes for several years. The plants themselves grow taller than the roof of our house, and they don’t bloom until the end of September/early October. The tubers (roots) can be dug up any time after the blooms die off. Here’s the first batch I dug up week before last:
Until a couple years ago, I hadn’t done anything with the sunchokes except to cook them whole, either roasted or boiled. They are really delicious, especially roasted with other “winter” vegetables. Their flavor is somewhat sweet, and they are still slightly crunchy even when fully cooked. A couple years ago, my BFF gave me a silicone “chip maker” plate gadget for the microwave, and sunchoke chips are absolutely delicious.
Year before last, I think, maybe a year before that, I had a customer in my booth at Keep It Local who was disappointed to find that I didn’t have Jerusalem Artichoke Pickles among the jams and pickles on my sales table. She told the story of a woman in her neighborhood whose sunchoke pickle recipe was so loved, people all over tried to get her to share the recipe. She refused every request to give up the recipe until the day she died – when the recipe was left to someone in her will. Having never heard of such a thing before, I went hunting online and found several recipes, most of which are very similar. The next year, I made my first batch of Sunchoke Pickles, and they were a hit. Since then, I have made pickles each fall, and have always sold out.
This year, I got enough sunchokes to make two batches of pickles, so I made one with the regular recipe and the other with more spice. They are a sweet pickle, with sunchokes and onions, and the sunchokes are very crispy.