I've spoken many times about the sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes) we grow here at the Wyvern Heath. They can be incredibly overwhelming, because they grow so prolifically, but that is, in fact, exactly why I cherish them so much. Reading about things like the potato famine in Ireland in the 1800s and other starvation times, I appreciate the sunchokes even more. It's a lot of food in a little space with almost no effort. And they're native to North America and were a food favored by the natives who lived in this area.
I dug two pounds today, which is pretty cool, I think. I dug two pounds of food from my garden, today, at the beginning of December.
In December, in Maine, I still have food I can harvest from my garden.
I just think that's pretty remarkable.
Sunchokes can't be stored without processing for very long (I dehydrate them and make chips or flour). I've kept them for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. As long as they stay cool and moist, they're okay for a bit, but unlike other tubers, like potatoes, they can't be dug at the end of a season and stored for months on end. They wouldn't keep well in a root cellar, for instance, and really, the best place to keep them, is in the ground. Which makes them a perfect food for preppers, because most people (like the Doomsday Preppers band of marauders) don't know what they are and won't be looking for them. They can't be used in the middle of the summer, because the root gets kind of mushy as the plant puts all of its energy into making the stalk and flower, but in the spring, before and just as the shoots start to appear or in the late fall, when the showy yellow flower dies back, the roots are crisp and delicious ... kind of like water chestnuts meet a carrot.
The sunchokes I harvested today will end up as one ingredient in a special gift I'm planning. It will be the first time I've made this particular item, and, as is typical of me, I will be modifying the original recipe to accommodate the substitution of sunchoke flour.
And for those of you for whom it is an issue, this treat will be gluten-free ... and goes well with tea (a special blend of which I'm also planning to make).
Picture taken before the first frost.