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

 
gardener
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Recipe?

I literally just array them on a plate and nuke them until the insides are as buttery-soft as a well-roasted sweet potato or a roasted garlic clove.

The skin retains a fibrous chewiness and a bit of that flavor Joseph describes as resinous, but I don't mind it when accompanied by the sweet soft goo inside.  I just sprinkle with salt and eat.

If my eating scheme allowed for butter, i would surely put some on there.

Have you ever had those little yellow "Swede" potatoes shaped like bananas, that become sweet and buttery when well-cooked?  That's what the insides of sun chokes taste like to me after 8-10 minutes in the microwave.

As for "wind", I don't detect a difference.  But when you eat a plant-based diet full of legumes like I do, there's an overall fairly high level of digestive vigor going on, it takes something fairly spectacular to stand out as noise in the signal.
 
gardener
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I want to create a demand for them in my family. I'm growing them in pots this year, but if I can find enough different ways my family likes to eat them, then we may devote a whole garden bed to them. For some reason I've really set my heart on getting them in that bed, so I'm already starting my recipe search.
 
master pollinator
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Thanks for posting those links to recipes.  I think we have a lot of tubers in the garden, but so far I've not been good about cooking and serving them.  I'm always thrilled when something will grow and produce here, I'd hate to just waste this productivity because I failed to find a way to make them palatable.

 
pollinator
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I've tried roasting them (usually with other root veggies) but never really cared for them that way.  I found them to be their most palatable after a long simmer in a pot of soup.
 
Posts: 102
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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.
 
pollinator
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It might be a problem of too much too soon. You may need to acclimate to them. Or you can still grow them and feed them to your animals.
 
steward
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yeah... Sunchokes are a "sometimes" food. I second the recommendation of starting slowly.  Small amounts are probably a good idea until your gut bacteria can adjust to the new starches.  I've never had the gas issue but I never eat sunchokes as a side dish.  I look at them as a condiment more or less like fried onion strings. Good on a salad for sure.  

I probably have  a couple hundred pounds of sunchokes each year.  I feed most of them to pigs and chickens.  My family and I might eat a couple pounds each year.  The main reason I have them is to catch nutrient at the lower areas of my land.  I have them as part of a swale system and a windbreak so what's above ground is just as valuable as what's below ground.  The dead stalks are great to add to the chicken coop bedding or as mulch on annual garden beds.


 
Tyler Ludens
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Craig, do you feed the whole tubers to the chickens, or do you process them in any way?

 
Craig Dobbson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Craig, do you feed the whole tubers to the chickens, or do you process them in any way?




I just throw extra tubers into the next paddock for the chickens.  It's usually an area that's been worked over by pigs, so any tubers that don't get eaten, usually root and grow in the upturned ground.  I chuck them in whole.  
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's great, thanks!  
 
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How much space do I actually need for sunchoke? I bought a pound of the red on amazon,have them in pots waiting to sprout. May be unnecessary but I can't decide where I want them. Do goats find the plants overly delicious? Have to decide if they can grow on my garden fence.
I have 2 lbs. I'm not sure how they will do,I'm in the "Coastal plain"  of NC but just outside of the Sandhills region and a few miles from SC.
I also bought yacon bought did t catch that what  I was ordering were storage tubers rather than the planting ones. Will these not sprout? If so, anybody know where I can buy or trade some from?
 
steward
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I plant sunroots 18" apart in the rows, with 5 feet between rows.
 
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I wonder if adding spices or herbs would help with the bloating/gas issue. Like beans with savory?! I am thinking fennel, savory, juniper, etc. that aids digestion...
Anybody experienced with that?
 
Libbie Hawker
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I'd definitely be willing to grow them as bird food! Sounds like they'd be great for that purpose. They sure are pretty.
 
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Noob to the forum. Hello all.
Had a red, knobby type Sunchoke back on the farm when I was a kid. The tops grew about 5' to 6' tall, flowered very little. The tubers were sort of knobby, but not grossly knobby. They tasted sweet and nutty raw and Mom never cooked with them. I'd pull them and snack on them in the fall and spring.
Now, years later, I'm on a lot and a half in town, growing three varieties.
I found a feral type along a road in the country several years ago. They grow 12' plus tall with white, straight, smooth tubers about 6" to 8" long and 3/4" to 1" in diameter. They have a very faint turnipy taste, stink when cooked unless they're dried first, then there's no stink, just good flavor. Their flowers are so tough they can't be chewed raw. I boiled 3 quarts this fall, strained the liquid off and made wine. While cooking, they smelled exactly like squash. I just bottled the wine and I'm letting it age. It has a different smell for sure, heavy, musky, what I'd call an earthy smell, not bad, just very different. I also used the left over water from cooking the ones we canned for wine. I was really wondering how that was going to turn out because as the water cooled, it jelled, solid. I had dropped in a few dozen raisins for natural yeast and had stirred them through the water before it jelled. It took about a week and the jell liquified and it began working just fine. Because the inulin breaks down slowly, its still working 3 months later.
I ordered some white knobby ones a year later and I've just started harvesting them all this year. We canned some, just like potatoes, canned some bread and butter pickles (Yum!!) and canned some more with some Taco seasoning (Also Yum!). Their flowers are tender enough to toss in salads and taste just like the roots. These ones grow 5' to 6' tall. The tubers have a slightly sweet, almost regular potato taste.
A year ago I noticed some in a small flower bed in town and bummed three tubers. The people had no idea what they had. I dug them and spread them out this fall. They're red, knobby and larger than the white ones with tops around 6' tall. I haven't sampled them yet. I'm hoping they're like the ones I knew as a kid.
I bought a cheap electric mulcher and chop the tops right back into the plots and turn them in as I dig the tubers.
I'm in west-central Pennsylvania, zone 5, and I'm looking around for more ideas for storing, dehydrating and eating these things!
I also saw an old thread about Sunchokes crowding out brambles and that got me wondering if anyone has tried to crowd out Japanese Knotweed with them? I don't have any on my property, but around town there are several places that have been taken over by Knotweed. A relative's property near here is also being taken over by Knotweed so we may try it out and see how it goes in a couple years, if she wants the Sunchokes that is.
 
pollinator
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I have finally found a way to eat my sunchokes without a gas mask afterwards ;) Fermenting seems to work just fine. Either sliced tubers, or whole, both work. Sliced one are ready in less than a week, for whole ones I had to wait a bit longer. I have used just salted water and some spices.
gru1_3.jpg
[Thumbnail for gru1_3.jpg]
Fermenting sunchokes with spices
 
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I'm not seeing Latin names used in this thread, but from my understanding:

Helianthus annuus = Sunflower
Helianthus strumosus = Sunroot
Helianthus tuberosus = Jerusalem Artichoke or Earthpear or Sunchoke(?)

It's probably the English language that fails to make a clear distinction between Helianthus strumosus and Helianthus tuberosus, and they are very alike, but I like to say the Earthpear is a more cultivated, civilised version of a Sunroot. The Sunroot has a wilder set of tubers that are more slender in shape. They are not so easy to harvest. The flower stalks are less tall than that of the Earthpear.
The Earthpear is more common, and understandably so, as it behaves much better. A more compact cluster of tubers that are individually also more compact in shape.

What is also often said is that the Earthpear doesn't bloom so reliably as the Sunroot, but it just so happens that in my first season growing both it were the Earthpears who flowered best, even the ones in a less sunny position. My Sunroots took until October before starting flowering, and that didn't come to much anymore, as October is very late in the season here.
When it comes to taste I can't tell a difference.
Obviously there are differences in varieties when it comes to how they grow. 'Topstar' is the name of the variety of Earthpear I have, 'Aurora Rubin' is the variety of Sunroot I have. 'Topstar' is a very compact grower, 'Aurora Rubin' has red tubers.

I hope I'm not confusing matters with these names, I suspect also commercial growers in some cultures are only using one popularised name?
 
Blaine Clark
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I've been digging into the 'results' of eating Sunchokes because of their inulin and I've stumbled onto little tidbits regarding the balance of flora in the gut and over-all health. In particular I just found this about how gut flora affects the brain and how inulin can alter that balance for the better; Nemechek protocol search on YouTube.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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In my vocabulary, I use the term "sunroot" as a generic description to label  any Helianthus species that produces edible tubers. I also use "sunroot" to describe the inter-species hybrids.
 
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Love them  had some a few years and  3 years ago they died out in mid season. So after couple years a small patch of about 3 last year popped up in an another part of my garden in the asparagus patch so needless to say I replanted every tuber I could find but now they also popping up all over it going to be a  very interesting year for them this year.
 
Dan Boone
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I found a nifty article on sunroots (I am a convert to Joseph's preferred terminology) in the December 1846 issue of The Southern Planter, with especial emphasis on their value as a fodder crop for raising hogs:

For the Southern Planter. JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE.

Mr. Editor, — In your paper (the Southern Planter, Vol. III. No. 4, page 1,) is an article on the cultivation and value of the Jerusalem Artichoke, (Heleanthus Tuberosus.) If you have that paper I would like for you to publish it again in the Southern Planter, and state under the piece that I have a crop of them now growing and if any person wishes to give them a trial they can be supplied with seed any time between now and the next spring. They may be planted any time from now until the first of March. For the information of those who are not acquainted with them, and perhaps might suppose that they are the common round artichoke growing generally in this section of country, I would state that they are quite a different root, resembling the Spanish or sweet potato and the color of the yam potato. I have for several years wished to procure seed, but have been unable until last winter to do so. A gentleman living in Nash county, North Carolina, brought a small quantity from Tennessee a few years back, in his carriage ; from them he raised a crop, whence I got mine. I have been told that they are much prized in Tennessee and Alabama for their great profit in raising and fattening hogs. If they be of so much value in those countries where corn is raised so plentifully and sells so low, of how much more value ought they to be in this country where corn is so much dearer. The artichoke is the easiest crop to 1 cultivate of any that is made by ploughing and hoeing — and after they are made there is no risk in losing, for the place where they grow is the best to preserve them through the winter, and turning the hogs on them, saves the trouble of digging.

Very respectfully,

Nath'l Mason. Summit Depot, Northampton, N. C.

In compliance with this request, we re-publish the following :

"From the fact, that many inquiries have been made of late in relation to this very remarkable and useful plant, I am disposed to speak a few things of its culture and uses. — The Jerusalem artichoke is a native of the warmer parts of America, and of course was unknown in Europe till after the discoveries in this country by Columbus and his coadjutors. Since that time it has been cultivated to consi- derable extent on the continent as well as in Great Britain, but the reports of its profits have considerably varied, in that, as well as this country. In the Old World some have culti- vated it to afford shade to the game ; others have converted the stocks and leaves into fodder for cattle, and others again, have encouraged its growth for the tubers alone. In this country there are two important objects to be kept in mind in raising artichokes; 1st. The improvement of land ; 2dly. The use of the tubers. — However, the first matter is the cultivation, and I begin with

1. Soil. --  Almost any kind of land will produce artichokes, and it is remarkable, that they will grow in the shade, that is, under trees, or in fence corners very well indeed. Land, how- ever, with a tolerably good sandy mould will give the most abundant crop. Low, wet, soils, and very tenacious clay are not so suitable.

2. Preparation of Land. — The ground should be broken as for corn, that is to say, one good, deep ploughing, and a thorough harrowing will answer the purpose admirably.

3. Laying Out. — Rows laid off four feet each way with a bull's tongue or shovel plough, in most soils, will be the proper distance.

4. Quantity of Seed. — From four to five bushels will be required to the acre, and unless the long roots are broken to pieces of three or four joints, or eyes each, this quantity will not be enough.

5. Manner of Planting. — Drop one root at each cross of the plough and cover from one to two or three inches with a harrow, hoe, or plough.

6. Cultivation. — So soon as the young plants appear, run round them, with a cultivator, har- row or light plough to destroy the young weeds, and loosen the earth. Keep the ground free of weeds and open to the influence of the atmosphere, till the plants are about three feet high, when they should be laid by, by the use of a cultivator; or in the absence of a cultivator and when the land has been ploughed, the harrow should pass both ways to leave the ground loose and the surface level. Generally, about the same cultivation given to corn will answer well for artichokes.

7. Digging. — This is the most troublesome job in the management of this crop ; and if the hoe is the dependance, the labor will be very tedious. The better plan, is to lay off a land as for breaking up the ground, so soon as the frost has killed the under leaves of the stocks. The plough should run from six to nine inches deep and let the hands, big and little, pass di- rectly after the plough, to pick up, that none of the roots may be covered by the next furrow.

8. Yield. — The produce to the acre is va- riously estimated from five hundred to one thou- sand bushels, and it is probable the turn out on medium land would be nearer the latter than the former.

9. Uses. — In England and other parts of Europe, the tubers have been considered quite a delicacy for man, and without doubt they make the most beautiful pickle. But their chief importance, in this respect, is their use in feeding hogs. From the middle of October to the middle of November, the hogs may be turned on the artichokes, and with salt always in troughs to which they can have access, they will grow T and thrive till next spring, particularly, if the ground is not too hard for rooting. I have not experimented to ascertain the quantity of hogs to the acre of good artichokes; but from the observation of two seasons, I am of the opinion twenty head will do well on an acre for months. As some have complained their hogs would not root after them, it may be necessary, as hogs, like men, know not much before learning, that they be taught to root after them. This is clone, by calling the hogs after a plough that will throw out the roots, till the grunters learn their habitation, which will re- quire but a very short time.

10. Improvement of Land. — As the stocks grow from ten to fifteen feet in height, and have thick, porous foliage, much of the food of the plant is received from the atmosphere, and thereby the soil is not so heavily taxed as by other crops, the ground is protected from the killing rays of the sun and the stocks and leaves fall and rot very soon, — these advantages, with the manure from hogs, afford the cheapest, and amongst the richest coats in my knowledge. — It is my conviction, (in the absence of long experience) that artichokes in summer, and hogs in winter, will enrich our poor lands cheaper and much better than upon any other plan. To be sure, a farmer cannot have all his land in ar- tichokes, but every one should have enough to support his hogs through the winter, and I venture those who give this crop a fair trial, will reluctantly abandon it.

11. General Remarks. — A few farmers of my acquaintance have informed me, that they have succeeded with corn and artichokes together, and it is highly probable this will prove a successful mode of cultivating these two crops; but on the system of 1 one thing at a time,' we would prefer each crop separately. Some have supposed the second year's growth on the same ground would be more valuable than the first ; but this is a mistake. The plants grow so thick the second year, that not more than half a crop can be anticipated. It might answer, to plough out rows and cultivate the second year ; but the practice of putting artichoke lands in something else the second year, is the plan 1 much prefer.

Amongst the arguments which might be used in favor of this crop, it should not be forgotten, that there is no labor of digging, but for seed ; that more troublesome weeds and grasses are completely smothered out ; and last, but not least, the young plants the second year are more easily subdued than almost any weeds known. Take artichokes, all in all, I think them worthy the attention of every farmer who wishes to enrich his lands, or raise his pork with a small outlay of grain. T. F.

 
master steward
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I think this video is an awesome example of how resilient sunchokes are:

 
pollinator
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John Suavecito wrote:There is a genetic component to bitter flavors. Some people, like my wife, can't handle bitter hardly at all. These people tend to be subject to sweet tooth, but rarely have substance addiction problems.  I on the other hand, like a variety of bitter flavors, don't have a particular affinity for sweet flavors, but have had my struggles with addictions to substances.  This is the genetic pattern. It also strikes ethnic groups in patterns, and that's one of the reasons why some national cuisines have certain traditions, besides of course, climatic factors and access to certain biomes.
John S
PDX OR



This is very interesting. My sister would have fit into the category of your wife, and I am in your corner. We used to fight over whose addiction was the worst, hers, the sugar; mine, the alcohol. This is the first time I've seen anything that links it to particular biomes. Although we're supposed to be sisters, it's possible that genetically we are not.
 
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Susan Doyon wrote:I have loads of these , they make me very gassy !  I have not found a way to cook them that I really love but they are so pretty when in bloom  



Adapted from: https://patents.google.com/patent/US4871574A/en

Mince them in a food processor, add white vinegar to reduce the ph to @ 3 , add water and boil for 15 min's, bring the ph back up to six with baking soda, tip the contents into a sieve and rinse.

The link states that the inulin is converted to fructose when boiled at a lower ph. Now I just have to convert the result into mince pies to compliment the season in which I harvest them, winter.
 
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buy tubers?  I see these growing wild all over both in Wisconsin and now down in GA, and when I ask permission to dig some I am generally told yes.  Most folks don't know they are edible.  I just cook them in the microwave like baked potatoes, then sit in front of the TV, bite off one end, squeeze the creamy inside into my mouth, then chew up the chewy (but not fibrous) skin and eat it too.  A little butter and salt and it's suppertime.  Gave some to one of my Md's and he sauteed the peeled roots in olive oil and said they were delicious (but I did warn him about the gas effect...)
 
Diane Kistner
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Marsha Richardson wrote:The biggest problem I have with them is that the deer just love browsing them which drops tuber production something fierce.



We have about a six-foot strip behind our back ~4' chainlink fence that has a county easement on the other side that the county maintains. The easement is sunny, but there are some trees in the strip. Our back yard has a lot of area that was once pine forest that we've been taking trees down from, but some trees remain and the area is going to be left pretty much wild. We also have too many deer that come through, jump the fence, and come in and eat what I don't want them to eat. I'm wondering if I plant that strip with sunchokes, it wouldn't keep the deer on the "easier" side of the fence and give them plenty to eat. I wouldn't want a thick stand to intrude too much into the yard, but twenty feet into the back yard would be fine. What variety would work best for this purpose? I'd just want to leave it to grow and not harvest it.

 
Burl Smith
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Diane Kistner wrote: I wouldn't want a thick stand to intrude too much into the yard, but twenty feet into the back yard would be fine. What variety would work best for this purpose? I'd just want to leave it to grow and not harvest it.



I'm trying that, I'm leaving a corridor of 'sun roots' and comfrey for the deer to graze as they move down the property but still they chomp on the cukes. I'll try to implement a scarecrow before investing in a 9 foot fence. Ha! my dog would chase off the deer but as soon as they ad a fawn they would chase off him!
 
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Then I happened to read a book called  Brain Maker.  It's about the connection between gut microbes and brain function.



This is a *great* book - along with all others in the "Brain" series by Dr. David Perlmutter.

I began reading his books as he is a neurologist and I have been dealing with epilepsy since the age of 13.

Now in my early 40's I'm seeking some alternative / adjunct therapies besides traditional pharmaceuticals.

However, back to the sunchokes - I'm glad to see this reference here by Thekla, more good info from an unsuspecting source about this plant in his books.
 
steward & bricolagier
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Joseph Lofthouse: I'm trying to get the seeds off my sunchokes. I see nothing that looks like your picture. Bear with me on a silly description, see if it makes sense or if I need to draw it. There are the flower petals, when they fall off what's left looks kind of tufty. When the tufts comes out, what's left is sharp bits. When the sharp bits are gone it's just a bare stub left. I am guessing the tufts are the seeds? Or is it the sharp bits? Neither one looks like your seeds.
Tell me if I need to draw this...  

For what it's worth, BAD year gardening here, there may be no viable seeds at all. But first time I've ever tried to seed them, and I'm not sure what I'm looking for.
As always, I thank you for your help  :D  (and I thank anyone else who can answer this!!)

:D
 
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Richard Gorny wrote:I have finally found a way to eat my sunchokes without a gas mask afterwards ;) Fermenting seems to work just fine. Either sliced tubers, or whole, both work. Sliced one are ready in less than a week, for whole ones I had to wait a bit longer. I have used just salted water and some spices.


I definitely second all those who've said that fermenting sunchokes/roots/whatever is great. It's by far my favorite way to eat them, and I've never had issues with indigestion that way. Here are my old notes on my favorite ferment for them:

"A quart of sunchokes (adapted from Elizabeth Schneider's recipe for vinegar pickled sunchokes in Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini, who in turn modified a recipe from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide) can be sliced about 1/4 in. thick and spiced with 1 small onion in rings, 2-4 dried chili peppers, 1 tsp. mustard seed, 1/4 tsp. celery seed, 1/4 tsp. aniseed, 4 whole allspice berries, 2 bay leaves and the usual 1.5% salt solution" (that's 1.5 tsp. good non-iodized salt/pint of good water without "cides" like chlorine, chloramine, etc.).

These days I would say definitely add black pepper, and probably also a little fresh-grated nutmeg if you've got it; and a shallot is very nice instead of the onion.

I'm very excited to announce that I planted a pound of sunchokes in the "tuber delta" next to some garlic yesterday. I had bought two pounds, and I sliced the second pound similar to the above and combined with sliced fennel bulb, red onion, carrots, scallions, minced ginger, garlic, habañero, and other hot peppers for a half-gallon of fennel sunchoke kimchi a la Kirsten and Christopher Shockey's Fermented Vegetables. It produced a lot of fragrant brine and is looking awfully delicious today:
Sunchoke-Fennel-Kimchi-Fermenting.jpg
sunchoke and fennel kimchi
sunchoke and fennel kimchi
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Pearl Sutton:

Here is what a sunroot flower looks like when cut from sky-to-root.

Sunroots require a non-related pollinator, so if the seeds didn't get pollinated, their basic structure may still be there, but they will be tiny and shriveled. They are already tiny, I mean even tinyer.

sunroot-seed-in-disk.jpg
sunroot seed in disk
Sunroot seed in disk
sunroot-seed-corolla.jpg
sunroot seed and corolla
Sunroot seed with corolla
 
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I've had long experience with the tuber, which I really like. I eat it raw like a radish or boiled in its skin then peeled on my plate with a gob of mayo, like my asparagus. I've also squeezed the soft 'meat' out of it once it is well boiled. That works best with the early fall tubers of the year: They are almost roundish, not so knobby and they cook very soft.
Mention the tuber to old folks in Europe, like my dad in France, he said to me that he had eaten so much of this generous tuber during WWII that he could no longer stand to look at them: In occupied territory, no one grew fat because there was nothing to eat ... except Jerusalem artichokes! [which are not from Jerusalem and are not related at all to artichokes [except the taste]. The Jerusalem part comes from the Italian girasole, meaning that "it turns toward the sun". Indeed, since it is from the sunflower family, the flowers tends to turn toward the sun.
If it flowers before frost, honey bees will go on it very willingly, and since it is very "branchy", you can get a lot of [smaller] flowers. Here, the flowers have not developed seeds, so I could not tell you if you could reproduce them better from seeds if you tried multiple selections.
They will winter over very well even in very sandy Central Wisconsin [zone 4] and without any protection, so I have never attempted to store them in a root cellar. If you want to go the root cellar way, I would suggest that you do not wash the tubers and keep them with some soil, like carrots or Belgian endives or they will dry and rot.
Deer are very fond of the young sprouts in the spring, to such a point that if not protected, the deer will kill the patch. Plant them outside of your good garden soil and fence them until the sprouts have developed in a more woody plant, then the deer will not be interested.
Regarding flatulence, yes, they can give you gas but some are more "gassy" than others. There is a pink skinned variety that gives smaller tubers but which gives me painful gas, so I've stopped eating it. [I grew it only one year]. It is also not as vigorous. I'm fine with the white-ish skinned if I eat it in moderation [but it is so good!] You can prepare it any way you would eat a potato [baked, creamed, fried, boiled...].
If you are into developing a 'landrace', I would suggest selecting the largest and most smooth & uniform tubers because the main reason that they are not sold much commercially is that they are very "knobby". If you were to try and peel it mechanically, like they do potatoes in a scrubbing and rolling machine, the crisp vegetable would break into a lot of small pieces and you still could not get rid of all the soil in the creases. Those knobs come in a very regular pattern all around the tuber and next year, each knob may give rise to a new start going in different directions but mostly forward from the terminal tip.
Because I have very sandy soil, the roots and tubers will travel very far laterally in one season [like 5-6 feet]. So yes, in your good garden soil, it can be very invasive. Since even a tiny piece left in the ground will give you a full sized plant next year, it can be very, very invasive in sandy soil. In dry weather, they tend to go deeper too, so can escape being harvested.
I hope this helps.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Joseph Lofthouse: Thank you!! That answers my question enough that I can figure out what I have. I have several varieties, so there was chance for cross pollination, it was a very bad year here for a lot of things, including birds and bugs, so it's possible the pollinators I saw were not enough to do it. Also possible the fungal issues I had messed things up. I'll dissect a few flowers, see what's in there.
Thank you!! :D
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Pearl: Sunroots flower so late that sometimes they get frozen before making seeds. And the birds are really aggressive about eating the seeds. I often wrap the flower clusters in floating row cover to save some seeds. I typically crush the dried seed heads, and blow away the light things, leaving the seed behind.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Pearl: Sunroots flower so late that sometimes they get frozen before making seeds. And the birds are really aggressive about eating the seeds. I often wrap the flower clusters in floating row cover to save some seeds. I typically crush the dried seed heads, and blow away the light things, leaving the seed behind.


They haven't been frozen, and we have no birds. That's part of the horrible year here, I don't know where the birds are, but they are not here. Last year at this time I'd see about 100 birds a day in the yard, this year it's more like 2 a day. I did cover some of the heads a while back, and didn't see anything different in the covered vs uncovered ones. I'll dissect a few, now that I know what I'm looking for. I thought I'd be able to just gather seeds, didn't expect it to be a challenge.
 
Blaine Clark
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Sunchokes, Sunroots, whatever you call them have several different relatives.
A relative to Heliantus Tuberosus is Helianthus Pauciflorus, normally found in the Great Plains and south-central Canada. These ones spread by tubers and by seed. Still another related variety is Helianthus Multiflorus, another perennial. This one however may not flower for one or two or more years after being planted. It may also have a few tiny seeds. Heliantus Tuberosus, at least the three varieties that I have here in the east (west-central Pa.) don't seed at all. The flowers are barren. The ones I have are Stampede from online, Red Fescue and Fuseau, both gathered locally.
I live on a 1 1/2 in-town lot, not a lot of room, but I've learned a few things about them. They are mildly allelopathic which means they have means of suppressing foreign growth just as walnut trees suppress the germination of walnuts and several other trees and weeds under their canopy to reduce competition. Two years ago I stumbled onto some Red Fescue (I'm fairly sure of my ID) in a flower bed nearby that's being destroyed along an alley. I mixed them with my patch of Stampede. Last fall when I dug them up, they were not well formed or well sized. I scattered them a bit more in the Stampede patch. This fall I got the exact same result. I just found out about them being mildly allelopathic and I've dedicated a separate area for them this fall to see if they do better next year. In the tiny patch I got them from, they were nearly the size of the Stampede. The ones I harvested last fall and this fall were small, had some rough skin patches and were few and far between.
Regarding the gas issue, pardon the pun, I've found there are several ways to reduce and eliminate the gas. Freezing for extended time converts the Inulin into Fructose. In zone 5 we get solid freezing for several months where the ground is too frozen to dig. When I harvest in early spring they're almost like eating candy out of the ground because of the Fructose. Fermenting as pickles or sauerkraut converts the Inulin. Cooking with acidic mixes such as vinegar, citrus juice etc. also converts the Inulin as does extended cooking for several hours. Native Americans would make a pit fire, cover the hot coals with dirt or leaves, layer on the fresh 'chokes and cover them with more dirt leaving them roast for several hours. My wife and I love ours canned as Bread-n-Butter and Dill pickles. Even though they don't ferment when canned, the vinegar kills the gas effects pretty well. If I had a good cool place I'd try making sauerkraut again. I tried it once, but our house has no cool spot and I didn't use enough salt, they turned out mushy and musty tasting.
 
Pearl Sutton
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I noticed I had no weeds under the sunchokes, if they are allelopathic, are they mean enough to take out Johnson Grass? That would ROCK. I have big patch in a spot chokes would LOVE, and I can't put anything else in there due to rowdy grass.

:D
 
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