Sunchokes: Did You Know?

by | Nov 25, 2008

Sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, are one of the few tubers native to North America. Despite the name, these plants are not from Jerusalem nor are they artichokes. They are in fact a type of sunflower, though their flavor is similar to that of an artichoke. For this reason Italian cultivators called them girasole, the Italian translation of sunflower. When pronounced in Italian, girasole sounds similar to Jerusalem. Hence the name Jerusalem artichoke.

Their unique taste and texture make sunchokes a fantastic addition to many foods, however they are particularly useful as a potato substitute for diabetics. Unlike most tubers, sunchokes store their carbohydrates in the form of inulin instead of starch. Our digestive enzymes do not breakdown inulin, so it has a minimal impact on blood sugar and does not raise triglycerides.

The down side of inulin is that since it is not easily digested it can produce gas and bloating in sensitive people. Cooking sunchokes well can minimize this effect. It is also a good idea to eat a small amount the first time you try them and build up your tolerance.

Sunchokes are a good source of potassium, thiamin and phosphorus, and a fantastic source of iron and soluble fiber.

They make a delicious soup, but can also be roasted, sauteed or eaten raw.

What is your favorite way to eat and prepare sunchokes?

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8 Responses to “Sunchokes: Did You Know?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fun Fact for the day:
    Inulin is used in kidney function testing because it is freely filtered by the glomerulus, secreted into the tubule, and not reabsorbed. It is therefore a perfect measure of total renal perfusion. True story.

  2. Mike says:

    I like your optimism about strange and weird foods; I’ve only ever seen sunchokes at 1 organic grocery store in my area, and it probably would have never crossed my mind to actually eat it; now I really wanna try!

  3. Jed Wolpaw says:

    Awww, now I’m all choked up…have a great Thanksgiving :)

  4. Healthyliving says:

    Tubers are exciting. How related are the sunchokes to ginger, they look so similar?! So many root vegetable posts lately, I wouldn’t look at a sunchoke and think its a veggie. My prediction is that this will be the year of the root vegetable, and Darya is their champion!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love your ‘did you know’ articles. I had no idea sunchokes were so good for you, and I can’t wait to try roasting them now!

  6. Katie says:

    What a weird way for a real vegetable to get a name!

  7. Darya Pino says:

    anon1:

    Cool, thanks.

    —–
    Nicholas:

    Ah, Zoolander. Classic comedy.

    —–
    Mike:

    That is exactly what I am trying to get across to people. Why not buy random vegetables? They aren’t usually very expensive….

    —–
    Jed:

    Thanks! Back attcha!

    —–
    Healthyliving:

    I’m not sure if ginger is realted to sunchokes, but they sure taste different! Like I said, it is really more similar to an artichoke and a potato.

    —–
    Anon2:

    Thank you. Did you ever get around to roasting them?

    —–
    Katie:

    I think there are a bunch of things are named by the mispronunciation of another language. Strange indeed.

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