Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Week's Share--Sunchokes and the World Series

I apologize for the late posting but the beautiful weather and this baseball watching has been a bit of a distraction, not to mention much shorter days. Anyway, way to go Phillies!!!! Maybe its all those organic vegetables they have been eating, click here to watch MVP Ryan Howard's visit to the White House Garden.

This week's share includes a tuber you might not be familiar with--the sunchoke, otherwise known as the jerusalem artichoke. Click here to read a great blog posting on this curious little carbohydrate, just a warning sunchokes have the unfortunately side effect of making one a little gaseous. From the website eat the seasons the low down on Sunchokes:

Sunchoke (Jersualem artichoke) look a bit like a knobbly pink-skinned ginger root and have a sweet, nutty flavor, reminiscent of water chestnuts. Although not widely used (perhaps because of its awkward appearance or anti-social effects - see NUTRITION), they are an inexpensive and versatile food that can be used both raw and cooked and make a delicious soup.

The sunchoke is native to North America. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain introduced them to Europe after coming across them at Cape Cod in 1605.

The sunchoke plant (Helianthus tuberosus) is related to the sunflower and produces edible tubers. It is hardy and grows readily in cold climates.

Sunchokes are very rich in inulin, a carbohydrate linked with good intestinal health due to its prebiotic (bacteria promoting) properties. These health benefits come at a price; the food can have a potent wind-producing effect.

Sunchokes also contain vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium and are a very good source of iron.

Roots should be free from soft spots, wrinkles or sprouting. Knobbles and uneveness are unavoidable (and not indicative of quality), but smoother, rounder artichokes are easier to prepare.

Sunchokes will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Like potatoes, sunchoke can be served with or without the skin - scrub clean and leave it on for maximum nutritional benefit.

Cook as you would potatoes - roast, sauté, bake, boil or steam. If peeling or cutting, drop pieces into water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Unlike potatoes, sunchokes can also be used raw (e.g. in salads) or lightly stir-fried.

Sunchokes are used in the industrial production of fructose, which is derived from the inulin content of the vegetable. Click here for a fingerling and sunchoke warm salad, yum!

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