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The great big thread of sunchoke info - growing, storing, eating/recipes, science facts

 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:I was pulling weeds by my sunchokes the other day, noticed the woodchuck has been knocking some over to eat the leaves. Saw something interesting! The plants that are just bent over and didn't die are not only leafing upward and the leaf clumps are turning into new upward stalks, but the stem is rooting. I'll bet a LOT of money they can be propagated by layering, AND I'm wondering if it was done carefully in the early season, if they'd grow tubers all along the length of the stalk.
Can we increase the number of tubers harvested if we increase the root area of a plant by laying it down and covering it?
Experiments need to be done!! That's a cool concept!!



This makes me wonder how they would react to the "potato tower" treatment.
No doubt better than potatoes do!
 
pollinator
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I will be answering your post point by point, Kadence:
Growing in a variety of conditions: Mine is sandy soil, zone 4. PH 6.5. little mulch, very little 'fertilizer'[chicken litter] They are a root crop, so loose soil will work better than compacted soil, but if you have clayey soil, it might break it up: You would be sacrificing the crop. In my very sandy soil, they tend to travel to Timbuktu, like 6 ft out of bounds! So this year, I’m trying them in a raised bed. We’ll see. Any piece of root left in the ground over the winter, even smaller than a strawberry, even in zone 4, without protection will sprout a vigorous whole new plant. And they go deeeep! One foot or more in my sandbox! In the garden, they are invasive, although some selected strains may grow less contorted tubers and stay closer to the mother plant. Planted outside of the garden, they face heavy grazing from deer: In the spring, deer will eat the new shoots like asparagus and kill the plant!
If you leave tubers out of the soil where the deer can get at it, you should be accused of shooting over bait during the hunting season. Not sporting at all!
Storing: They are actually sweeter after a frost and in the ground, they will withstand Wisconsin winters where -40F is not unheard of. Up to you to see if you should devote precious storage room to this prolific tuber. You could pull them all out the ground if you have a small crop or leave them in, but if you do leave them in, spring conditions will get them growing like wildfire, so be ready! [I leave them in the ground and chase them in the Spring, but I always miss a few in spite of my best efforts].
Eating/ recipes: The pink skinned ones give me serious gas cramps, and they definitely are worse raw. The growing tip of these tubers is what goes mushy, but I don’t mind mushy: I can eat those creamed or mashed. On the same tuber though, the older part may remain firm while the newer tip will be mushy. I eat the white/beige unpeeled tubers raw, like radishes in moderation without gastric problems. After boiling them, you can also eat them cold. You can use them just like potatoes, although I have not tried deep frying.
These tubers were used in times of famine as a survival crop, their only drawback, as far as wider acceptance is concerned is that the root can be very contorted, so hard to peel, and in sandy soil, if you miss removing some soil in the tight little cracks, it will be gritty. Some new cultivars are being developed all the time with a view to change their worse features. I will tell you more once I harvest this year’s crop as I’m trying some. They are more prolific than a potato, so well worth that little effort. In the spring, you can cut each knob off the main root and plant it, so you don’t need a lot of tubers to be set for the following year!
 
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kadence blevins wrote:
eating/recipes: I don't have much on this except that there is a lot on using them in place of or with potatoes and parsnips? what recipes do you like? what recipes did you not like?
"The carbohydrates give the tubers a tendency to become soft and mushy if boiled, but they retain their texture better when steamed" ((from wiki page))



I use mine in soups and stews -- expecially hearty cream soups with potatoes, sausage, mushrooms, wild rice, etc -- and love the flavor they add.
 
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Location: West-central Pennsylvania
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We can most of the ones we harvest in the fall as pickles and relishes. Vinegar in the canning process + during shelf storage converts the Inulin into Fructose. I prefer them to cukes! After the winter freeze in zone 5 converts the Inulin into Fructose we harvest for canning like canned potatoes, roasting, grilling, adding into soups and stews, stir fries, boiling and mashing alone or mixed with potatoes and sometimes some garlic, frying as home fires and hashbrowns, raw in salads or just for nibbling on, dehydrating for chips and we grind chips in a food processor for flour. The flour is a heavy flour, like Buckwheat, you should mix it with other flours for lighter dough and you have to mix it with wheat to get it to rise.
I take a daily Inulin supplement for gut health so I can handle the fresh Inulin in the fall, so I also eat them any which way without any gas effects then. Some people have little or no gas effects from eating Inulin in the fall while others aren't fit company to be around!!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Blaine Clark wrote:We can most of the ones we harvest in the fall as pickles and relishes. Vinegar in the canning process + during shelf storage converts the Inulin into Fructose. I prefer them to cukes! ...!!



I didn't think about pickling them but this sounds like a great idea: With the vinegar and sugar, the pickling might make them fart-less? I just saw a "bread and butter pickled sunchoke" recipe that I might try: https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/recipes/pickled-sunchoke-recipe-jerusalem-artichoke-homemade-pickles-the-dabney-dc
I also found this one after you got me curious:
https://honest-food.net/pickled-jerusalem-artichokes-recipe/
Could you give us your favorite recipe, Blaine?
 
Blaine Clark
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We go the already prepared way with Mrs. Wage's packaged mixes. We have a couple different recipes left over from last year and I picked up a couple more a few months ago. Around here they've been hit hard and nearly cleaned out as are most other canning supplies.
Cooking them for several hours as in a slow cooker, cooking with an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or citric acid, deep freezing for at least a day, or fermenting them as sauerkraut or Kimchi are the four main ways to convert the Inulin into Fructose and get rid of the gas issue.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Blaine Clark wrote:We go the already prepared way with Mrs. Wage's packaged mixes. We have a couple different recipes left over from last year and I picked up a couple more a few months ago. Around here they've been hit hard and nearly cleaned out as are most other canning supplies.
Cooking them for several hours as in a slow cooker, cooking with an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or citric acid, deep freezing for at least a day, or fermenting them as sauerkraut or Kimchi are the four main ways to convert the Inulin into Fructose and get rid of the gas issue.



Thanks, Blaine. Here [WI ]too: There are no lids and no jars left on the shelves. It is incredible It is crazy!! I'm planning to do at least a few pickled,, just to get a different taste, but I'll have to find more jars.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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I wanted to grow sunchokes again as they taste great and are so prolific. This time, I did more research and found a company that has been doing serious selecting for a number of traits, especially less 'roaming'/more clustering and less contorted shapes. They still have not selected for "not gassy", so just don't eat a pound at one seating! [The red/pink ones are definitely gassier, just so you know]
Oikos is the company and Starwhite cluster sunchoke is the cultivar I went for.  Here is the page with all of them, so you can see the incredible variety : https://oikostreecrops.com/products/perennial-vegetable-plants/sunchoke-Jerusalem-artichoke-tubers/?limit=25
I could have picked Gute Gelb sunchoke, which looked promising as well but I settled on Starwhite.
The results are in and they are fabulous. Not the biggest sunchokes, [although some of them are 5-6"long and 2"across] but they lived up to the 2 traits advertised: Does not spread and has a regular shape.
I planted 20 of them in 2 beds, each measuring 4' X 8'. They all stayed in bounds! I must say it was a tall bed [11"] placed directly on bare ground with decent soil within 2"from the top of the bed. I planted them so there was no more than 1/2"of soil on top of the tuber to take full advantage of the high bed.
And they were prolific!  Some of them went almost 1 foot deep but area-wise, they stayed in a 2 ft. diameter. Remember that my soil is quite sandy, so if they wanted to roam, they easily could have! but they politely stayed put.
I do not mind that they are a bit smaller because I have a use for all of them: The bigger ones are for cooking [boiling, roasting, creaming etc.] The few that got damaged in unearthing as well as the 'stems' between the tubers will go to the chickens or to the deer. [We have a cam that records who comes to the feeder, and deer sure love those sunchokes]. I also have tiny ones, the size of a quarter and smaller. Those can be boiled too. Just pop them in your mouth and squeeze them between your tongue and palate [They just melt in your mouth!]. Then spit the skin, if you feel you must [I don't.] I just brush and rinse some of those and eat them like radishes with a little salt or some butter or a buttered toast.
YUM!
Now, they still have "eyes" in the same arrangement as the tubers I used to have. I feel that in another season, each eye might either swell in a weird shape or make a whole new plant. I will have to test this by leaving one or two in the ground.
 
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Here's another name for these, from Danish 'Jordskokker', the equivalent of which in English would be 'Earthchokes'. We've got a fair amount in the garden, as well as in our earlier garden, for years. But - I have never ever seen them flowering. The type we have is white and knobby and I am in Denmark (whatever US zone that would be). Is it the type of choke we have or the climate that prevents them from flowering? I would love flowers on them, they are very pretty!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Catherine Brouwer wrote:Here's another name for these, from Danish 'Jordskokker', the equivalent of which in English would be 'Earthchokes'. We've got a fair amount in the garden, as well as in our earlier garden, for years. But - I have never ever seen them flowering. The type we have is white and knobby and I am in Denmark (whatever US zone that would be). Is it the type of choke we have or the climate that prevents them from flowering? I would love flowers on them, they are very pretty!



I live in zone 4 Wisconsin, a rather continental climate. Since Denmark is half land half sea, I suspect your weather is more even over the course of a year. It can be hot and humid here in the summer [+90F] and very cold in the winter [-40F]. Spring and Fall are transitions seasons that oscillate between summer and winter. Mine are flowering right now [mid October] after 2 killing frosts. Most years, they have not flowered. Since this year I have a different cultivar [Starwhite from Oikos], it may be a question of cultivars. Incidentally, yes, the flowers are very pretty small sunflowers, and multibranched, but I'm removing most of them: Usually, in a flowering plant, the energy spent on making bloom will take away from the amount [size/number] of tubers [and I'm growing them for the tubers]. But I'm torn: As a beekeeper, these plants flower late in the season, when choices are limited for pollinators.
I should say that I do not know that for a fact as soil conditions and weather will also have an influence, but intuitively, it sounds right. In fruit trees, you have to limit the number of blooms so that you get bigger fruit.
My soil is deep and sandy and they are in raised beds. I keep enriching the soil, but I started from pure sand, so I still have a ways to go to make it "rich", let's say. [I do have a few earthworms, through;-)]
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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William Bronson wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:I was pulling weeds by my sunchokes the other day, noticed the woodchuck has been knocking some over to eat the leaves. Saw something interesting! The plants that are just bent over and didn't die are not only leafing upward and the leaf clumps are turning into new upward stalks, but the stem is rooting. I'll bet a LOT of money they can be propagated by layering, AND I'm wondering if it was done carefully in the early season, if they'd grow tubers all along the length of the stalk.
Can we increase the number of tubers harvested if we increase the root area of a plant by laying it down and covering it?
Experiments need to be done!! That's a cool concept!!



This makes me wonder how they would react to the "potato tower" treatment.
No doubt better than potatoes do!



Potatoes [and especially tomatoes] have adventitious roots along the stem, so you can plant them at soil level, then add soil and they will grow roots along the stem. The sunchokes start from tubers and they are [very] prolific. As the tuber starts to grow, there is an area, pretty much 3-4 inches below the surface where all the tubers are started. From there, they grow underground runners that swell all along, like a string of pearls. With a long season, they can go quite a ways! [like 6 ft. in every direction. They go DEEEP too, [Over 1 ft. deep] especially in sand, which is what I have. I plant them in 12"deep beds, and some still manage to escape!
If you allow them to stay in the ground over winter [which I would understand because even in our cold zone 4, without any cover, they will survive and even thrive], each tuber will become a new plant, with as many 'strings of pearls' as the tuber had eyes. Each one of these runners will in turn go in every direction. At this point to tame the plot, you would have to do what the deer does: clip without mercy anything that grows outside of the beds until it stops coming.
I attempt to harvest all of them at the end of the season to avoid that. The best way to keep them 'available' would be to keep them in buckets of damp sand so they don't dry out during the winter. A temperature near freezing would also keep them nice and plump, same as carrots. Another advantage to harvest all of them is that in the first year, they will usually grow fairly smooth tubers and their shape can be more like a torpedo. The tubers that stay in the ground, if you attempt to dig them out in spring will have the contorted shape that is impossible to clean. I suspect that is the main reason why this delicious and prolific tuber is not grown more: As it grows older, it is hard to clean: It is a torpedo with a row of marbles on the top, a row of marbles on the bottom, a row of marbles going left and another row going right. So 4 rows of eyes, very evenly spaced, plus the end bud that goes straight forward.
It would be interesting to try just for kicks. Here, our season is relatively short, so by the time you have a stalk long enough to attempt [let's say 4-5 ft.] it might be late August- early September. I harvest mid-late October, so not really enough time to form a whole new set of tubers. Besides, by that time, the stalks are pretty stiff and brittle, so you might just snap the top and get almost nothing.
If you seek a bigger crop, you might want to cut the original tuber so there is at least one eye/ piece. The advantage is that you would also choose how far apart your plants would be.
If on the other hand, you do not care to harvest a crop and you are more after making a living barrier, it might work … unless you have a lot of deer: In the spring, they love them and they eat them like we pick asparagus. I once planted them outside the garden [because, you know INVASIVE!]  The deer were nibbling on them as soon as they started coming out of the ground and they killed every last one of them!
 
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ANyone have any thoughts on reducing the soil upheaval when harvesting them? If harvesting in the fall, there could be a winter crop sown through mulch to lock up some of the excess nutrient that the disturbance releases, and that would winterkill as mulch.  Or if you plant a perennial in an area that you've harvested the sunchokes from then you could do a rotation into another crop.  Sunchokes to shade out competition and break up hardpan a bit, then plant to tree crops?  

Or is there a way to avoid turning the soil when harvesting?
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:ANyone have any thoughts on reducing the soil upheaval when harvesting them? If harvesting in the fall, there could be a winter crop sown through mulch to lock up some of the excess nutrient that the disturbance releases, and that would winterkill as mulch.  Or if you plant a perennial in an area that you've harvested the sunchokes from then you could do a rotation into another crop.  Sunchokes to shade out competition and break up hardpan a bit, then plant to tree crops?  

Or is there a way to avoid turning the soil when harvesting?



I'm not aware of avoiding turning the soil when harvesting sunchokes. You may be able to do that with potatoes, winter radishes, beets and carrots under heavy mulch because they don't grow deeeep. You will still disturb the top 8-10". Sunchokes do. The only way I can think of not disturbing the soil would be to grow them in half barrels. The plastic barrels they use to transport a number of food goods like pickles, Coca-Cola syrup etc. sound like a good bet. [I have not done it]. You would control everything, meaning that you would have to water, which is an additional chore for you, and you could not plant more than one per barrel. The return on your investment of barrels would not be great.
A huge planter? if that is an option for you? I have 2 planters 4' X 4'X 33' and I'm considering it.
Sunchokes should be planted relatively close if you want to "shade the competition" because at a minimum, the roots will spread 3-4 ft laterally. One stem, even with a lot of leaves every 3-4 ft will not choke out [chuckles, chuckles] the competition. [Sorry, I could not help myself]. A good layer of mulch will, however. It will also keep a lot of moisture handy for the chokes.
My soil is extremely sandy, so digging through it is not a big chore, but for the chokes,  "Have roots, will travel" should be their motto. I indicated that OIKOS has selected strains that do not travel so far. They will still travel 2 ft. laterally and one ft. down. [versus 6-7 ft on some exemplars]
You seem to be particularly worried about the soil disturbance. Any root crop, carrots, potatoes will give you a similar worry. Sunchokes travel *deep*, as well [About 1-1.5' in my sandbox]. Are you worried about disturbing the soil life besides destroying the structure? You mention hardpan, so I assume you have a more clayish soil than I have.
If you wish to break up hardpan, you might invest in winter radishes instead: They can be planted a lot closer, are a lot cheaper, are edible for humans as well as livestock. They will not travel sideways and will still go 10" if planted in the summer. Better yet, you won't have to worry about any left over in the soil: they will decompose over the winter.
I see that you are in zone 6. In my zone 4, Central WI, any piece of sunchoke left in the ground WILL SURVIVE, without mulch, and each will become a new plant
Perhaps a better strategy would be to think of a sunchoke perennial plot. Try to harvest every little bit of them [you will still fail, but try]. As far as getting rid of them where you do not want them, be vigilant in the spring and use a stirrup hoe for every plant out of place until the 'volunteers' are exhausted and gives up the ghost. That is how the deer killed all my sunchokes that were outside the garden a few years back. [I had this idea of planting a windbreak, as long as they produce massive, stiff  stems & can grow 7 ft. in one season. Well, back to the drawing board on that one!]
I hope this helps. This year, I raised them in big, high planters [10" boards all around]. That seems to have helped the ease of recovery. I could have made it even easier by just plain lifting the bed. For some reason, I found a number of sunchokes right under the boards and right under the 4"X 4" corners. I will have to write to OIKOS about that: It is as if the roots traveled outwards  until they met an obstacle, then attempted to get under but got 'stuck' and the root swelled there, forming a bulb. I wonder if they have observed the same thing.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Thanks, that's kinda what I figured.  I'm not too worried about it, just aware that it's a major permaculture principle not to till, and this situation forces it.  

I don't have any hardpan currently (except maybe under the raised bed I made).  I built the bed mostly in case they escaped and tried to choke the neighbors.  But it's also worked well for being looser soil than the "yard" soil that was here before and has been weirdly dry after seeming absorbant in the spring.

I also think there's less disturbance than a plow if you harvest by hand, make a cut with a shovel and turn it a few degrees over and reach in to pull out what ever comes and leave the ones that don't come easily.  It's a fun, cool day activity to feel around for them in the dirt.

I also do think about rotating in a non-root-crop for that area next year, knowing that it will have some sunchoke companionship inevetably too.  I just don't know what to do about the fact that right after you harvest is the best moment to sow--except to wait for harvest until the spring or late winter and then do some winter sowing of the next rotation crop.


Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:ANyone have any thoughts on reducing the soil upheaval when harvesting them? If harvesting in the fall, there could be a winter crop sown through mulch to lock up some of the excess nutrient that the disturbance releases, and that would winterkill as mulch.  Or if you plant a perennial in an area that you've harvested the sunchokes from then you could do a rotation into another crop.  Sunchokes to shade out competition and break up hardpan a bit, then plant to tree crops?  

Or is there a way to avoid turning the soil when harvesting?



I'm not aware of avoiding turning the soil when harvesting sunchokes. You may be able to do that with potatoes, winter radishes, beets and carrots under heavy mulch because they don't grow deeeep. You will still disturb the top 8-10". Sunchokes do. The only way I can think of not disturbing the soil would be to grow them in half barrels. The plastic barrels they use to transport a number of food goods like pickles, Coca-Cola syrup etc. sound like a good bet. [I have not done it]. You would control everything, meaning that you would have to water, which is an additional chore for you, and you could not plant more than one per barrel. The return on your investment of barrels would not be great.
A huge planter? if that is an option for you? I have 2 planters 4' X 4'X 33' and I'm considering it.
Sunchokes should be planted relatively close if you want to "shade the competition" because at a minimum, the roots will spread 3-4 ft laterally. One stem, even with a lot of leaves every 3-4 ft will not choke out [chuckles, chuckles] the competition. [Sorry, I could not help myself]. A good layer of mulch will, however. It will also keep a lot of moisture handy for the chokes.
My soil is extremely sandy, so digging through it is not a big chore, but for the chokes,  "Have roots, will travel" should be their motto. I indicated that OIKOS has selected strains that do not travel so far. They will still travel 2 ft. laterally and one ft. down. [versus 6-7 ft on some exemplars]
You seem to be particularly worried about the soil disturbance. Any root crop, carrots, potatoes will give you a similar worry. Sunchokes travel *deep*, as well [About 1-1.5' in my sandbox]. Are you worried about disturbing the soil life besides destroying the structure? You mention hardpan, so I assume you have a more clayish soil than I have.
If you wish to break up hardpan, you might invest in winter radishes instead: They can be planted a lot closer, are a lot cheaper, are edible for humans as well as livestock. They will not travel sideways and will still go 10" if planted in the summer. Better yet, you won't have to worry about any left over in the soil: they will decompose over the winter.
I see that you are in zone 6. In my zone 4, Central WI, any piece of sunchoke left in the ground WILL SURVIVE, without mulch, and each will become a new plant
Perhaps a better strategy would be to think of a sunchoke perennial plot. Try to harvest every little bit of them [you will still fail, but try]. As far as getting rid of them where you do not want them, be vigilant in the spring and use a stirrup hoe for every plant out of place until the 'volunteers' are exhausted and gives up the ghost. That is how the deer killed all my sunchokes that were outside the garden a few years back. [I had this idea of planting a windbreak, as long as they produce massive, stiff  stems & can grow 7 ft. in one season. Well, back to the drawing board on that one!]
I hope this helps. This year, I raised them in big, high planters [10" boards all around]. That seems to have helped the ease of recovery. I could have made it even easier by just plain lifting the bed. For some reason, I found a number of sunchokes right under the boards and right under the 4"X 4" corners. I will have to write to OIKOS about that: It is as if the roots traveled outwards  until they met an obstacle, then attempted to get under but got 'stuck' and the root swelled there, forming a bulb. I wonder if they have observed the same thing.

 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Thanks, that's kinda what I figured.  I'm not too worried about it, just aware that it's a major permaculture principle not to till, and this situation forces it.  
I don't have any hardpan currently (except maybe under the raised bed I made).  I built the bed mostly in case they escaped and tried to choke the neighbors.  But it's also worked well for being looser soil than the "yard" soil that was here before and has been weirdly dry after seeming absorbant in the spring.
I also think there's less disturbance than a plow if you harvest by hand, make a cut with a shovel and turn it a few degrees over and reach in to pull out what ever comes and leave the ones that don't come easily.  It's a fun, cool day activity to feel around for them in the dirt.
I also do think about rotating in a non-root-crop for that area next year, knowing that it will have some sunchoke companionship inevetably too.  I just don't know what to do about the fact that right after you harvest is the best moment to sow--except to wait for harvest until the spring or late winter and then do some winter sowing of the next rotation crop.

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:


Darn! I messed up the formatting to make the message more concise. I hope it is still clear.
I was not sure if you had made a bed for them. Good for you! Being a bit higher than the surrounding soil will help: you won't have to did down to China if the plant is already a little higher than the surrounding soil. A good layer of mulch will keep the soil friable as well,  as you may have noticed. The no-till system is great but it is better if you add so much mulch that all you have to do is part the mulch to plant. [That may mean 10" or more of dead leaves: They mat with the snow on top but the root crops will break through without your help [especially sunchokes!] Dead leaves are not so good on strawberries for example because they mat so badly that they may choke the plants.
To damage less tubers [and be a lot kinder to your back], you might want to use a fork with skinny tines. Go all around about 2 ft. from the plant and then go once more around, trying to lift. they come out a lot easier if you first loosen the soil from a little farther.
As far as the best time to sow the tubers for next year, look at your harvest and sort out any that is damaged right away: Those will not keep as well out of the ground. In the ground, they will be real troopers and make you proud. Then, you can plant them anywhere in as long as the soil is not frozen. [It is a little different from garlic, which needs to develop some roots before the ground freezes]. Perhaps you will notice that the sunchokes are already developing hair roots.
You mentioned trees as a rotation crop. Trees are a long term project, not so much something you include in a *rotation*, but there are a lot of things you can plant near trees that will not interfere but *help*. Look up guilds for fruit trees.  
Good luck to you.

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Thanks Cecile, that's a great tip about re-planting the damaged ones.  

As for "rotating" trees, I was thinking more if you have an area that you're going to plant trees in anyway you could grow sunchokes there first.  On the downside, you want the trees to self-select more than most things, they're candidates for "STUN" (sheer total utter neglect), so if you gave them an advantage at the start with "tilling" the soil then they wouldn't be prepared to face the real world in the second year.  

I love the idea of planting into mulch instead of into soil! that's more or less what I'm going to do as I'm accumulating fallen leaves like an American shopper at a Target on Black Friday.  USA! USA!  I do wonder if the squirrels will have the same idea vis-a-vis the sunchokes.  I had already planted mine back under the soil before, so I'll try adding a few up in the leaves too and see what happens, though it'll be hard to know cause and effect as I haven't marked anything.



Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Thanks, that's kinda what I figured.  I'm not too worried about it, just aware that it's a major permaculture principle not to till, and this situation forces it.  
I don't have any hardpan currently (except maybe under the raised bed I made).  I built the bed mostly in case they escaped and tried to choke the neighbors.  But it's also worked well for being looser soil than the "yard" soil that was here before and has been weirdly dry after seeming absorbant in the spring.
I also think there's less disturbance than a plow if you harvest by hand, make a cut with a shovel and turn it a few degrees over and reach in to pull out what ever comes and leave the ones that don't come easily.  It's a fun, cool day activity to feel around for them in the dirt.
I also do think about rotating in a non-root-crop for that area next year, knowing that it will have some sunchoke companionship inevetably too.  I just don't know what to do about the fact that right after you harvest is the best moment to sow--except to wait for harvest until the spring or late winter and then do some winter sowing of the next rotation crop.

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:


Darn! I messed up the formatting to make the message more concise. I hope it is still clear.
I was not sure if you had made a bed for them. Good for you! Being a bit higher than the surrounding soil will help: you won't have to did down to China if the plant is already a little higher than the surrounding soil. A good layer of mulch will keep the soil friable as well,  as you may have noticed. The no-till system is great but it is better if you add so much mulch that all you have to do is part the mulch to plant. [That may mean 10" or more of dead leaves: They mat with the snow on top but the root crops will break through without your help [especially sunchokes!] Dead leaves are not so good on strawberries for example because they mat so badly that they may choke the plants.
To damage less tubers [and be a lot kinder to your back], you might want to use a fork with skinny tines. Go all around about 2 ft. from the plant and then go once more around, trying to lift. they come out a lot easier if you first loosen the soil from a little farther.
As far as the best time to sow the tubers for next year, look at your harvest and sort out any that is damaged right away: Those will not keep as well out of the ground. In the ground, they will be real troopers and make you proud. Then, you can plant them anywhere in as long as the soil is not frozen. [It is a little different from garlic, which needs to develop some roots before the ground freezes]. Perhaps you will notice that the sunchokes are already developing hair roots.
You mentioned trees as a rotation crop. Trees are a long term project, not so much something you include in a *rotation*, but there are a lot of things you can plant near trees that will not interfere but *help*. Look up guilds for fruit trees.  
Good luck to you.

 
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I've seen people here talking about the invasiveness, the growth conditions, the *ahem* wind generation...

But my problem is this: I've grown two varieties (red fuseau and hypernova) and they taste identical: RIDICULOUSLY nutty / earthy. To me, they taste nothing like artichoke. At all.

I tried frying. Nope - still nutty. The wife tried making sunchoke pancakes, potato-pancake style. Nope.
We've tried to "hide" the flavor with citrus acid, or ketchup, etc. Not happening.

Is there any way to reduce the overwhelming, all-consuming "nutty" flavor? Perhaps a variety bred to not taste as nutty, or a cooking technique that removes that element?
 
steward
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In my estimation, the longer sunroots are cooked, the more they taste like sunflower resin. Deep fried chips are the worst for me!

To minimize heating, I like to prepare them in ways that minimize cooking. Methods that work for me are adding raw into a salad, and as part of the starting ingredients for lacto-fermented vegetables or kimchi. Or munching on them as raw tubers.

Sometimes, I'll add them in small quantities to a soup, roast, or stew. Something to add a bit of interest, without being overwhelming. It is rare for me to make a dish where the primary ingredient is sunroots. Once in a while, I'll boil them in milk, and puree it into a soup, which has a strong sunflower resin taste about it.

sunroot-slaw_640.jpg
lacto-fermented sunroots
lacto-fermented sunroots
kimchi-sunroots.jpg
sunroots lacto-fermented with carrots, beets, and whatever else
sunroots lacto-fermented with carrots, beets, and whatever else
 
Barry Silude
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Thanks! So it sounds like I can't get away from that flavor, huh? What about the kimchi - sunroots ferment with that same terrible nuttiness?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The resinous taste tends to be concentrated in the peel. You could peel them to lessen the concentration of the flavor. Also, the resinous taste tends to intensify if the tubers get dehydrated, so it can help to store them moist and cold.

Perhaps the easier path, would be to change your mind. Learn to adore the flavor exactly like it is, without trying to make sunroots into something that they are not.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Aaron Festa wrote:Anyone have a bad experience with mice/voles/moles eating their tubers?




Voles have been a problem for me.  You can put down Perma-til before you dig tubers and it works into the soil.  Sharp edges deter voles because those under soil dwelling critters have thin skin and if they get a cut, they are doomed as infection sets in quickly and they die.  You only have to put it out once.  I don’t usually use anything, I just try to dig them before they are all eaten.  Would love to leave in the soil over winter, but wouldn’t have much of anything left if I did.  However, they always miss enough that they come back up every spring in abundance.  In 20 years, I’ve never had to replant.  
 
Faye Streiff
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Libbie Hawker wrote:When I was still living in Seattle, I went to a fancy new vegan restaurant and eagerly ate a dish featuring sunchokes. Delicious! So tasty! And the next day, I felt like Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, slowly inflating to perfect roundness. I've never been so horrendously bloated in my life. No more sunchokes for me! Darn.



With any food that produces flatulence, eat a little ginger with that meal.  It helps tremendously.
 
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