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.