Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Getting Arty and Chic with Helianthus

Here's a brand new way to eat your Jerusalem artichokes: blanched - the shoots, that is. I call them artichicons. If it works for rhubarb, sea kale, chicory and a host of other plants, why not that irrepressible artichoke impostor Helianthus tuberosus? Lest you think me smug, I had absolutely no intention of doing any of this. Call it serendipity, call it fortuitous, but as far as I'm concerned, it was an accident.

An errant patch of rampant Jerusalem artichokes needed eliminating. I couldn't face digging them up, so the answer seemed simple: I'd cover them with light-excluding weed control fabric and hope the buggers died off before the bed was needed. I'd reckoned without girasole mio's thrusting and aggressive growth, however.

Weeks passed, then the fabric began to rise like a bloated loaf. Intrigued by this Greater Black-Backed Multiple Tumescence, I pulled the cover away to reveal a forest of pallid artichoke shoots. I picked one and chewed on it for a moment. Not bad, I thought. Not bad at all. I harvested the rest and later that day, I cooked them.

Although ginger, garlic, soy sauce and chillies can make most things palatable, these artichicons really were rather tasty. No doubt correct varietal selection and time of harvesting would lead to an even better experience, reducing the chew factor, but for a first (and unexpected) attempt, I was quite pleasantly surprised. More research is therefore needed, but all in all, a topping way to eat your topinambours. No more will I look upon redundant artichoke capacity with a sinking heart - I'll fire up the wok instead.

16 comments:

Rebsie Fairholm said...

That's by far the most constructive use for rampaging j-chokes I've ever seen, and the most entertaining description.

If you can't beat it, stir-fry it.

Mark said...

A good discovery

Raymondo said...

You've given me ideas...I planted out a good number of celeriac seedlings some months back. Not a swollen root in sight! I've been using little bits of leaf in soups and stews and trying to ignore the fact that they'd have to go, being so unproductive. Ah, but now, I shall raze them to the ground and stick a bucket or two over them and eat the blanched shoots.
Thank you for an inspiring idea.

Vegetable Heaven said...

I should think you could blanche rather a lot of things to use like this. Hmm ... goes away thinking!

Nellie said...

Hi - thanks for you comment over on my blog - thought I'd have a look and see what else you have to say!
... and lo! What a fantastic blog; oozing with info! I love it, count me in as a regular reader! Can't wait to hear about more of your growing adventures...

Nellie x

Rhizowen said...

Rebsie - thanks. They're a lot easier to grow than asparagus.

Mark - I hope so.

Raymondo - good luck with the celeriac. let me know how it turns out.

Vegetable Heaven - yes indeed. I'm thinking maybe rosebay willowherb would benefit - nice shoots, but taste not so good. There are many, many other possibilities

Nellie - glad you like the blog. Hope your tomatoes and squashes do OK. Let's hope the weather warms up soon.

Emma said...

This is such an awesome idea! It's a shame I almost killed my JA's last autumn and will have to wait until next year to try it ;(

Rhizowen said...

Emma - not so much an idea as an incidental discovery, but a good one nevertheless. You almost killed you Jerusalem artichokes - deliberately or by accident?

Leigh said...

Brilliant - I will have to try this! I don't care for the fresh tubers much, but I absolutely love them lacto-fermented

Rhizowen said...

Hi Leigh

Thanks for the comment. I must try the lactofermentation route with this year's crop of artichokes. It's an elegantly simple, yet somehow underrated technology.

Ottawa Gardener said...

I'm intrigued. I've heard of eating H. maximillian (or however it's spelt) shoots so this seems quite reasonable. Great idea.

Angelina said...

awesome, another plant in my backyard to cut and sautee, topped with garlic, ginger, spring onion and drizzle of mushroom soy sauce. Yum...

Thanks for posting. Angelina

Anonymous said...
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Polly Oz said...

Do the blanched shoots cause the same 'abdominal effect' that the tubers do?

Anonymous said...

Did the Jerusalem artichokes continue to grow after you harvested the artichicons?

Rhizowen said...

Hi Polly - I didn't notice that effect.

If we had harvested them sparingly, I'm sure the artichoke plants would have recovered. We didn't, however. We ate them into oblivion.

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