I developed a bit of a love affair with the Jerusalem artichoke over the past season, and it continues on into the winter. Yesterday, I made a tuna salad wrap, using a peeled Jerusalem artichoke in place of the the celery I forgot at the grocery store. This had been in the vegetable drawer easily 2 months, and it was delicious.
The Jerusalem artichoke was something new to me last year, when I friend bought some at Whole Foods and explained what they were. Shortly thereafter, another friend and avid gardener asked if I wanted some of his that were sprouting. He pulled his up because they were very popular with some of the wildlife in his area, making a mess of his garden digging up the tubers.
What is a Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke? I am no expert, but these are a type of sunflower that grow many flowers--much like a daisy, and store food in a tuber or root throughout the season. The root will winter over and provide nourishment for the new flowers the following year, and produce more plants. In some ways it reminds me of an iris.
In addition to being one of the last veggies harvested in late November, it was also one of the last flowers standing. The Jerusalem artichoke can be eaten raw in salads, and has a flavor similar to a water chestnut, or can be boiled and eaten like a potato!
I'll be planting more next year :-)