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Jerusalem Artichokes


Jerusalem Artichokes

Storage

They will keep for 2 weeks or longer if stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

The Jerusalem artichoke has no relatives in the artichoke family, but is actually a member of the sunflower family. A native of North America, it grew in the wild along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Nova Scotia. The explorer Samuel de Champlain first encountered sunchokes growing in a Native American vegetable garden in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1605. In his opinion they tasted like artichokes, a name that he carried back to France. The Native Americans called them sun roots and introduced these perennial tubers to the pioneers, who adopted them as a staple food.

When Jerusalem artichokes arrived in Italy sometime before 1633, the Italian word for sunflower, "girasole," which means "turning to the sun," was somehow later corrupted into the word "Jerusalem." This corruption combined with Champlain's likening the taste of the vegetable to an artichoke to give the tuber its modern name.

The Jerusalem artichoke was popular in France in the early 1600s. But, as with so many trends, the popularity did not last. However, in times of desperation, the Jerusalem artichoke remained a food of last resort. It was during a famine that occurred throughout Europe in 1772 that the Jerusalem artichoke were quickly and easily grown to provide nourishment. During World War II the tubers regained some recognition in several countries because they were a food that could be bought without a ration card.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Jerusalem artichokes are a good source of iron, with 3.4mg per serving. Vegetarians will be happy to know that this is more iron than lean ground beef. Dieters will be happy to note that they have only 35 calories per 100g. A serving of Jerusalem artichokes contains 2.3 g of protein, .1g of fat, 16.7g of carbohydrates, .8g of dietary fibre, and 6% of the daily allowance for vitamin C.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw or cooked, whole, diced, sliced, in salads, with meat dishes, baked, roasted, stir-fried, etc. But keep in mind that the flesh of Jerusalem artichokes will darken with exposure to air just as potatoes will, so if you are serving them raw, be sure to dip them in acidulated water. Even after cooking, the high levels of iron may cause stored cooked Jerusalem artichokes to turn gray. A pinch of cream of tartar or a bit of acidic (such as lemon juice or vinegar) liquid in the cooking liquid will remedy this situation.

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