Make these precious, delicious and rare food plants part of your garden. Margaret Roberts shares with us some of her knowledge (and a recipe too) about the Jerusalem Artichoke – Helianthus tuberosis…
At the end of summer, the top growth (often over 2 metres in height) dies down, and by late autumn, a bounty of succulent tubers await the gardener, providing enough to make many soups and other wondrous vegetable dishes.
We sell Jerusalem artichokes at our nursery that are growing in bags already, and can be bought for immediate planting. This should be done into deeply dug and richly composted soil in full sun.
How did the Jerusalem artichoke get its name?
In England in 1617, the first consignment of tubers came from a place called “Ter Neuzen”, which sounded similar to “Jerusalem”, but as it turned out, was easier to say.
Then the Italians called it “Girasole”– meaning “turning to the sun”, which also sounds like Jerusalem. And so “Jerusalem artichoke” stuck, and is now more commonly known by that name around the world.
The Jerusalem Artichoke as a Superfood
- It is a marvellous health food that is rich in a type of fructose known as “Levulose” that is good for diabetics.
- It also opens blocked ears and blocked noses.
- The Jerusalem artichoke is soothing over aching joints, boils and abscesses, as well as sprains and muscular injuries when the raw tuber is used as a hot poultice. Simmer the tuber in boiling water until it softens, cool it to a comfortable heat, and then apply it to the area. Reapply when necessary.
Rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, chlorine, sulphur, calcium, carbohydrates and Vitamins C & E, it can be baked, boiled, made into soups and stews, as well as thinly sliced and tossed into salads.
Eating too much (or too quickly) can cause gas build up and flatulence, so always eat caraway seeds or chopped mint with Jerusalem artichokes. You can also drink a cup of mint tea during a meal, or shortly afterwards.
Recipe: Italian Artichoke Soup
- About 8 tubers of well scrubbed artichokes
- 4 large potatoes peeled and chopped
- 4 medium onions finely chopped
- Sunflower oil or olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
- 2 litres of rich chicken stock
- About ½ a cup of chopped fresh parsley and mint
- In a heavy bottomed pot, brown the onion in oil. Then add the potatoes and stir fry.
- Once everything starts to brown, add all the other ingredients, except the fresh chopped parsley and mint. Simmer until tender. Taste for extra salt and pepper (use Himalayan salt and black pepper).
- Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped mint and parsley.
For more info
Note: Margaret Roberts has a fine selection of plants and seeds available from her nursery. Her shop stocks a wide variety of their health products that can be posted to you. Should you at any stage be stuck for fresh botanicals or natural cosmetic bases such as aqueous cream, these can be couriered or posted to you.
Words: Margaret Roberts
Styling: Sandy Roberts
Pictures: Sandy Roberts and Supplied