The Jerusalem Artichoke and I

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

One of the reasons we left our house in the suburbs of Canberra, was that I had unwittingly planted a couple of Jerusalem Artichoke tubers in the garden.  Within 3 years they had formed multigenerational families and had their own bowling teams.  Two years later they were holding organised meetings to plan their takeover of the world before the Winter freezes arrived to cut them down to size.  Luckily for me, their timing was always poor and the 6 foot high monsters would be knocked to the ground, so that I could pull them out and feed them to the chooks, or use them to mulch the vegie patch cum chicken graveyard. 

Seriously, once you have Jerusalem Artichoke in the ground your family will never go hungry….and you will never get rid of them.  The flowers are like smaller sunflowers and are pretty and sunny waving gently in the breeze, a little over the average grown-ups head.  The leaves and stalks apparently make great fodder for stock, and the warty tubers, cooked like potatoes, taste nutty; and creamy when they are stewed and blended for soup.  These tubers are very good for the Type 2 Diabetic diet, as it works as a blood sugar stabilizer.  What’s not to love?  The little buggers are good for you, high in iron, full of inulin, natural, prolific, pretty, cheap, tasty…I could go on.


But beware.
The tubers also make you fart.  My boys used to love them because they don’t make little breathy puffs from your nether regions.  They bring symphonies.  That is the music of the Jerusalem Artichoke.

So, we fled our suburban Jerusalem Artichoke patch much as though they were Triffids…and truth be told…they look eerily similar.  And then you know what I did this year?  I bought some Jerusalem Artichoke tubers at the Farmers Market.  Then I forgot about them in the bottom of the pantry.  Then I found them looking shrivelled but still green.  And because I hate waste.  And because it is three years since we fled the Masters of the Universe JA Committee in Canberra.  And because I have the reflective memory of a goldfish.  You know what I did?  You all know me by now.  You know what I did.

I planted them.

I even justified it to myself by putting them around the chicken run as a windbreak (haha get it?), and as a shelter from the hot Summer sun.  And in my head I was thinking “Now we’ll never go hungry again!”…you have to do it in a Scarlett O’Hara voice to really hear where I was.  Which just goes to show Jerusalem Artichokes have developed mind control, and it’s a POWERFUL weapon!

17 thoughts on “The Jerusalem Artichoke and I

  1. Sounds like they are ready to take over the world! I couldn’t read your blog without “Jerusalem” playing in my mind.

    And was the Jerusalem planted here Among these dark Australian hills.

    Perhaps the song contains a clue as to how to get rid of them!

    “Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire! Bring me my spear! …”

  2. Lol, they have you in their spell! You have whet my appetite and now I want to try them. I wonder if they can be peeled and roasted? Please remember, if this question sounds strange, it is because at the end of the day(and at the beginning) I am cooking challenged.

  3. J’sM. I don’t know that one – certainly sounds appropriate!

    Oh sure, Stace, you can’t kill these. If you’re really keen and not scared to have them marching across your property, I’ll give you a few tubers to try.

    Lavenderbay: Dreams come true, so keep dreaming!

    Dennis: in their natural state they look quite pooh-like…I’m surprised any human was brave enough to try them the first time!

    LiD: Truth be told, I’m cooking challenged at the same times of day too…and I work in a kitchen, so I totally get you! Jerusalem Artichokes can be peeled and roasted very successfully, although because they can be knobby, gnarled little tubers sometimes it’s just easier to scrub them clean. You don’t see them in supermarkets because they aren’t so attractive, but you should be able to find them in your fruit and veg market.

    I’d love to hear how you find them!

  4. Loved your post – but I have a question: what do you DO with Jerusalem artichokes? Do you have any favourite ways of eating them? If so, do share as I walk past these little fellas in the greengrocers sometime and even ponder buying them … but I always stumble on what exactly for!

  5. If you can get your hands on any Jamie Oliver cookbooks, he’ll certainly have a recipe for them in there – he loves ’em! I’ve boiled them up for soups, scrubbed them and added them in with my sweet potato/pumpkin/potato free for all roasts…they cook quickly so keep them in large pieces. Also, mashed with potato for a bit of difference and a good chunk of health and FIBRE! 🙂

  6. And to think I have never met a Jerusalem Artichoke… now I will go out of my way not to meet them (and I will certainly not talk to them, or invite them into my home, or down the garden path…)!

  7. Great story about your enthusiastic Jerusalem Artichokes. I can’t wait to get my hands on the last ones this season to plant some guerrilla garden patches with them.

    And next winter, I will go out with a shovel and come back with rich loot in the form of many kilos of tubers for me and my girlfriend to eat!

    Guerrilla gardening – Green power to the people.

  8. Green Power! Actually, Eric, that was the slogan of the Jerusalem Artichoke committee in my old backyard!

    In all seriousness, I think JA’s may well become a more important food source, given their great nutritious value. Ours are doing well here on the farm, and interestingly, every time my horse gets out of the paddock his first stop is the JA windbreak (heehee) to eat the leaves, and if there’s no grass on the ground he comes back to chomp the stalks. They just keep right on growing.

    A plant that can feed stock, poultry, and people whilst providing a windbreak and pretty flowers is a very useful guerilla type gardening plant indeed!

  9. Pingback: Year in Review « Laugh in the Sun

  10. Hadn’t read this till now. Wonderful. I love your turn of phrase Al. We also fled JAs at one house in the ‘Berra when they started to take over. relish, but dangerous!

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