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Top 5 Surprising Foods You May Have Never Tasted: Jerusalem Artichokes

Updated on January 30, 2010

Very surprisingly, the Jerusalem artichoke is not from Jerusalem, nor is it an artichoke. In fact, this nutty tuber is not even from the Middle East. The Jerusalem artichoke comes from the southern part of the United States, where Native Americans enjoyed its versatility and sweet flavor. The iron and thiamin contained in these small dynamos is impressive. And the good news is that they are so easy to make! Just about anything you make using potatoes can be done with Jerusalem artichokes. However you are going to notice that the taste of Jerusalem artichokes is quite a bit different from potatoes. If I had to come up with one vegetable that it tastes the most like, I'd have to say the base of artichokes (hence the name).

Jerusalem artichokes are also called sunchokes, a more appropriate name, since Jerusalem artichokes are part of the sunflower family.

Nutritional Perks

When it comes to iron content, Jerusalem artichokes are hard to beat. Just 1 cup of sliced Jerusalem artichoke contains over 5 milligrams of iron. That's about 30 percent of the Daily Value. In fact, it contains over three times as much iron as an equal serving of broccoli.

Jerusalem artichokes are also a source of phosphorus and an excellent source of thiamin. One cup of sliced Jerusalem artichoke contains about 12 percent of the Daily Value of phosphorus and about 20 percent of the Daily Value for thiamin, the mineral essential for energy production.

Selecting Jerusalem Artichokes

Look for a Jerusalem artichoke that's heavy for its size. This usually indicates it's full of moisture and is still fresh. The color should be tan or cream. Surface texture varies from smooth to lumpy. Steer clear of Jerusalem artichokes that are green, wrinkled or dry-looking.

Jerusalem artichokes are available year-round, with the sweetest yield in fall and winter.

Storage and Handling

Keep Jerusalem artichokes in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, wrapped in a plastic bag. They should keep for up to one week. They can also been kept in a cool, dry cellar.

Preparation Pointers

When you're preparing your Jerusalem artichokes, just think of them like potatoes. Personally I love to leave the peels on both potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes as I just love the flavor and texture, but some people prefer to peel them especially if they are going to mash them. I was once living in an Iron Curtain country and had a fair number of dinner parties. One evening I was invited to a dinner party at a friend's house and when I arrived and sat down I found that all the other guests were staring at me even more than usual. I asked them politely what the fascination was, and one lady near the end of the table stated that they had all heard about me, I was the guy who ate potatoes with the peels! Apparently in that country the only use for potato peels is to feed pigs. No self respecting national would actually eat a potato peel. They would be just as likely to eat a potato peel as we would be in eating a banana peel!

Continued In Top 5 Surprising Foods You May Have Never Tasted: Parsnips


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      I had some freshly picked sunchokes in southern Italy that were aaaaaaaaaaaamazing! A completely different taste. Yum!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      They are also easy to grow, although in a temperate climate they will remain quite small. That nutty taste of a sunchoke dug up fresh out of the garden surpasses any bought in a store.