Jerusalem artichokes are neither from Jerusalem nor artichokes – they are of the sunflower family, growing up to 3m tall with beautiful sunflower-like flowerheads that light up the garden and attract beneficial insects.
If you take some as cut flowers you’ll also deflect energy towards the tubers and get a larger crop as a result. Grow them in a line and you’ll have a seasonal windbreak to protect any delicate plants and provide you with some privacy. In stronger winds as they are tall they may need staking for support.
And then there are the tubers, ready to pick from late autumn – sweeter after a frost and will store in the ground all winter. They are earthy and delicious, fantastic roasted (where they soften and soak up neighbouring juices and flavours) or sliced and cooked slowly with cream to become the base of a risotto, or even sliced into a gratin.
This is the variety to go for – it is smoother than others which makes peeling easier and less wasteful.
Jerusalem artichokes have a reputation for causing wind thanks to a sugar called inulin which is not easily broken down by the body. It only affects some people and is usually counteracted by eating with parsley, which goes with it very well. And the more often you eat them the better your body deals with the sugar!