2. Where does the Jerusalem artichoke come from?
The Jerusalem artichoke is native to North America and has been cultivated and consumed by indigenous inhabitants for generations before the European colonization. In the beginning of the 17th century, French sailors discovered the plant and brought it back to Europe where it was naturalized. The Jerusalem artichoke is important staple food in some regions of Europe and is commonly known as “tompinambur”. While it quickly spread across Europe, it was not cultivated widely in North America – where it was mostly used as a forage plant.
3. How do you cook Jerusalem artichokes?
The Jerusalem artichokes are a specialty vegetable, consumed like potatoes, baked, roasted, fried, sautéed, boiled, steamed, mashed and incorporated in stews or soups. They may also be served raw in salads. The tubers can be prepared with their skins on, since much of their nutrients are stored just beneath their thin skin. To prevent brown colouration, the tubers can be immersed in acidulated water. The recommended times for cooking are as follows: 30-45 minutes for baking whole in an oven, 10-15 minutes for steaming and 5-7 minutes for sautéing.
5. What are sunchokes?
Jerusalem artichokes are often called by the more modern name “sunchokes”. They are also known as “sunroot” and “earth apple”. The name “Jerusalem artichoke” is misleading since the plant has no relation to Jerusalem and it is not a type of artichoke. The origin of the name is still uncertain although it is thought that the European settlers named the plant “Girasole”, the Italian word for sunflower. Over time “Girasole” was corrupted to Jerusalem. In the beginning of the 17thcentury, Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, is said to have encountered the tuber, which he described tasting like an artichoke.
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4. What do they taste like?
Unlike other tubers, the main storage carbohydrate in the Jerusalem artichokes is inulin instead of starch. This makes them crispy in texture like water chestnuts. When they are cooked they are soft and have a rich and nutty flavour. This distinctive flavour is often acclaimed by gourmets and has contributed to its increased popularity among the renowned chefs.
6. What is inulin?
Inulin is the main storage carbohydrate in the Jerusalem artichoke tubers. It is a fructan that cannot be digested by the human intestinal enzymes and is considered as a functional ingredient. It is a well-known prebiotic fiber that has been linked with improved immune system, increased mineral absorption, and reduced risks of colon cancer, metabolic syndrome and obesity. Jerusalem artichoke tubers contain high amounts of medium length chains of inulin that can be extracted in the similar process as the extraction of sugar from sugarcane. Commercial grade inulin exists as a white powder and is neutral in taste.
1. What is the JAAC?
The Jerusalem Artichoke Association of Canada (JAAC) is an organization that is interested in the development of all aspects of the Jerusalem artichoke. The JAAC is a single point of contact where growers, processors, food manufacturers, product developers and different levels of government can collaborate to promote and expand the Jerusalem artichoke industry in Canada. JAAC is committed to assist members find new opportunities in the processing and marketing of Canadian grown Jerusalem artichokes.
Jerusalem Artichoke Association of Canada