A long, long time ago I had my first encounter with a sunchoke. During my winter CSA adventure with 5 Points, we received a handful of knobby looking tubers. I was a little stumped about how to cook them and posed a question Facebook. My favorite response was a link to a website with instructions on how to plant these to propogate more. Despite much scrolling I couldn’t find that link, but here’s the long and the short of it: dice up your sunchokes so that there’s an “eye” on each one and plant them. They’ll grow like weeds so make sure they’re in an area where you can afford to have a few of these tall guys growing.
I planted my tubers in the winter.
By May they looked like this:
They continued growing all summer and into the fall. In November they were as tall as my fence and adorned with bright yellow flowers. Then the leaves began to wither away and the stalks turned limp. They were ready to harvest.
My baby and I dug around in the dirt to find the loose sunchokes, which had spread throughout the area. They were small, knobby, dirty little things. Much like my baby.
Sunchokes are like the feral cousins of potatoes. While they do contain similarities, don’t think that they are replicas. Their taste is mild but balanced, with a light earthy flavor that fills your entire mouth. The texture is without comparison. A firm outer layer with a soft buttery inside. Sunchokes are an example of what potatoes probably once were before they were domesticated.
As with potatoes, these can be peeled. Due to their knobby nature and high vitamin content it may not be worth the trouble, unless you are especially particular about the texture of your food (see the above comment). My tubers were small, and by discarding the skins I would have lost the majority of my batch, so I skipped that step.
Much like apples, sunchokes have a tendency to turn brown when exposed to the air. If preparing in this fashion then slice them thin and allow them to sit in a bath of water, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt until you are ready to cook them.
This recipe is incredibly easy, and to be honest sauteeing your sunchokes doesn’t really warrant an official recipe. A dash of good quality salt and a squeeze of lemon are all that you need to highlite the flavors of these rogue-potatoes.