|Edible roots of Jerusalem Artichokes|
|Unwashed roots on the stalk|
Jerusalem artichokes, or Sunchokes as they are sometimes called, are native to the central regions of North America. The plant is technically an evergreen perennial, but cultivated as annual crop.
Once established, it grows vigorously with multiple branches, reaching about 5-10 feet height, slightly taller than sunflower plant, and carries many golden-yellow flower heads at the terminal end of branches.
The plant bears numerous starchy edible rhizomes firmly attached to stem underneath the ground surface. Jerusalem tubers feature grey, purple, or pink skin externally, and sweet delicate textured ice-white flesh inside. Some roots have quite bumpy and extremely knobby outer surface, making their cleaning a tougher task.
Jerusalem Artichokes thrive in Pine Valley, and you will see them growing naturally along the highway and roadsides. The roots can be purchased at the grocery store to eat or plant. Be sure and plant them where they can spread, because they will!
Since it is a native plant, Jerusalem Artichoke was a staple crop among many Indian tribes. They often prepared it by digging a pit, placing coals and hot rocks in the bottom, layering the Jerusalem Artichokes on top and then covering it all back up with dirt. After 3 days, the tubers were cooked and were a rich nut brown. Delicious! This is one of the original survival plants that is good to know and grow.
Health benefits of Jerusalem artichoke
- Jerusalem artichoke is moderately high in calories; provides about 73 calories per 100 g, roughly equivalent to that of potatoes. The root has negligible amounts of fat and contains zero cholesterol. Nevertheless, it's high-quality phyto-nutrition profile comprises of dietary fiber (non-starch carbohydrates), and antioxidants, in addition to small proportions of minerals, and vitamins.
- It is one of the finest source dietary fibers, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin, which is a soluble non-starch polysaccharide. Inulin should not be confused for insulin, which is a hormone. The root provides 1.6 mg or 4% of fiber. Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine, and inert carbohydrate, which does not undergo metabolism inside the human body, and thereby; make this tuber an ideal sweetener in diabetics and dietetics.
- Soluble as well as insoluble fibers in this tuber add up to the bulk of food by retaining moisture in the gut. Studies suggest that adequate roughage in the diet helps reduce constipation problems. Dietary Fibers also offer some protection against colon cancers by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
- The tuber contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E. These vitamins, together with flavonoid compound like carotenes, helps scavenge harmful free radicals, and thereby offers protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.
- Further, Jerusalem artichokes are a very good source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, and copper.
- 100 g of fresh Jerusalem Artichoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of iron for the common edible roots and tubers.
- It also contains small levels of some of valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin.