It’a end of November now, jerusalem artichoke in the garden are ready to harvest. Jerusalem artichoke (Hellanthus tuberosus) also called sunroot, topinambur, sunchoke or earth apple. They are related to the the sunflower family. When the flowers in bloom they look a bit like sunflowers but much smaller. I have bought these the tubers last year and they have been growing this year like crazy. At least now they have all died down. Their branches do look quite tall, dark and scary in the garden as they have grown very tall (more 2 meters (6 foot) tall. It’s official winter is definitely and finally here.
Leaving them on the ground (How and when to harvest them)
I am not digging all of the tubers out of the ground as it’s better to leave them on the ground till one needs to eat them. This is because their flavours seem to develop with the cold weather. So the longer they are left on the ground (well till at least the first frost comes along) the better the flavours are it seems.
I am based in London, this year I have harvested some of jerusalem artichokes recently back in early December. The weather here in London is fairly mild compare to rest of the country in the UK. So depending on when the first frost arrives let the plant go brown, give it a few few weeks that’s the best time to harvest the jerusalem artichokes. To be honest i never really look out for the frost as it’s too cold to go outside!! I just look at the state of the plants as they have to adapt themselves with the weather around them. Plants either will tell they have been chewed by animals or the weather.
First sign of frost
It is very easy to harvest jerusalem artichokes. As the branches die down mark or break the frost rot down branches. this so that one knows where the tubers are. Then just gently dig them out. They do come out as clusters just divide them. Jerusalem artichokes certainly do need to to be harvested. As if one don’t harvest them these tubers will not have room to grow year after year. So if one doesn’t want anymore of them do dig them up and turn the soil over to look for any tubers. Any tubers left on the ground it will grow again the next season.
Below is what the jerusalem artichoke plant looks like comes autumn. Personally I just leave them alone like that till I start to harvest them.
Jerusalem artichokes do yield lots so plenty (around 2-3 kilos from each plant) around to eat. There will be enough to be left to grow for next year. In my experience they don’t need much protection from frost.
Above is what the flowers of the plant looks like in late summer. They are called sunchoke for the reason as they are the same family as sunflowers.
To cook them peel the skin off the skin as much as you can with a potato peeler or scrub them really well. One can use them in like one would use potatoes except Jerusalem artichokes are much easier to grow than potatoes. They also have more taste in them compare to potatoes.