A starchy vegetable with a sweet nutty flavour. They look like root ginger, but with a pinkish brown skin. Related to sunflowers, the Jerusalem part of the name is thought to be from the word ‘girasole' (Italian for sunflower).
They are at their best from November to March and can be stored in a cool dark place for up to 10 days.
How to cook
Jerusalem artichokes can be cooked in the same way as potatoes or parsnips as they are starchy. Try roasting them or layering with potatoes in a gratin - they also purée well in soups. Peel the thin skin with a potato peeler, cutting away any small knobs, then slice or chop as desired in the recipe. Drop the peeled artichokes into a bowl of cold water with a little squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring.
The buds of an edible thistle, unrelated to Jerusalem artichokes. Their tough outside leaves are not edible, but inside you'll find tender leaves with a delicious fleshy base. The heart or ‘choke' of the artichoke is also edible, but is full of hairy leaves, which have to be removed. Small artichokes will be more tender, though larger ones will have a bigger, tasty heart.
All year round, but best from June to November. Choose tight, heavy buds with crisp green or purple leaves. Eat as soon as possible after purchase or keep in the fridge for 1-2 days.
How to prepare
Break the stalk off the artichoke. Trim the base so it sits flat and rub the cut surface with lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Snip the spines off the leaves with scissors. Using a knife, cut off the pointed top. Cover the artichokes completely with boiling water and cook in a stainless steel pan for 35-45 minutes until a leaf pulls out easily. Drain upside down. Grasp the central core of the leaves and with a quick twist, lift it out. Reserve it. With a teaspoon scoop the fibres away from the choke and discard. Place the tender cone of leaves inside upsidedown.
Serve cold artichokes with vinaigrette, or serve them hot with melted butter, garlic butter or hollandaise sauce. Pull off each leaf, dip in the sauce and pull between your teeth to enjoy the tender flesh at the base. Discard the rest of the leaf. Alternatively try them stuffed in a salmon recipe.