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Seasonal Eats: A Little Something About Sunchokes

Jerusalem artichokes are neither from Jerusalem, nor are they artichokes: discuss! (Photo by Heather Parlato for LAist)
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By Heather Parlato/Special to LAist

I'll admit, I don't have an extensive history with Jerusalem artichokes, so when I saw them at the farmer's market, I decided to make them the topic of the week. As the photo caption suggests, there is no easily-searchable information on how they got “Jerusalem” in their name. They're native to north America, though when cooked, they do have an artichoke-like taste.

Alternately called sunchokes because of their relationship to the sunflower, Jerusalem artichokes are tubers that resemble ginger root's tougher cousin on the outside, without any of the tough fiber on the inside. They're light and mildly sweet, giving a satisfying snappy crunch even when you slice them. For this reason, they may be eaten raw or cooked at any size, never offering too much resistance to the bite.

The flavor this October-to-April seasonal veggie offers can differ quite a bit from raw to cooked. When raw, they are less sweet than apple, like radishes without the spice, pleasantly juicy and crunchy with a bit of nuttiness. The artichoke-potato flavor comes out when they're cooked, which you can do almost any way you like.