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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Food for the Apocalypse

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, are a high-yield, invasive tuber that packs more nutrition than potatoes and will grow just about anywhere. Sunchokes, or helianthus tuberosus, are sunflower family members (helianthus) that grow crazy edible roots (tuberosus). From what I hear, they are darn near impossible to get rid of, even if you think you've harvested every last one. This makes them a great low-maintenance, perennial vegetable. And they make a nice tall plant with small sunflower-like blossoms.

Sunchokes don't last very long once you harvest them, so they are best stored right in the ground, where they will keep all winter under a layer of straw. They're great in soups, or pretty much anything else you would normally use potatoes for.

I got these sunchokes from a co-worker in the spring. I dallied too long to plant them, and they started to go soft and moldy in the plastic bag they were in. I planted them anyway, expecting them to rot. But they sprouted, and then the sprouts sent off side shoots, and soon we had a large "fence" of sunchokes on the west wall of the property. Truly a food for the apocalypse.
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