What are Sunchokes?

How to Cook Sunchokes

The knobby, brown roots were piled in a box at the Tangled Oak Farm stand at the winter Bangor Farmers’ Market. I was there for stew meat, and maybe some eggs for breakfast, but seeing those brown tubers, I got excited. I’ve rarely seen them in stores and never in farmers markets, so it was a wonderful unicorn moment for me.

“Are those sunchokes,” I asked, pointing at the pile.

“Yes!” said the man who I’ve been buying meat from for nearly two years. I wondered how many folks had seen them and known what they were. I’ve written about them before, and love their creamy texture, and lovely nutty flavor.

So I bought some. Almost a pound, piled into a brown paper sack, perfect for roasting.

Sunchokes, Jerusalem artichokes, sun roots, earth apples. However you know them, these tubers that look like a cross between a potato and ginger root are actually a relative of the sunflower. They can be eaten raw or cooked, though I’ve only had them cooked which renders them wonderfully creamy. The flavor is a cross between a red potato and an artichoke — it’s delicious, especially when roasted simply, as in the recipe below.

I hear they also make a delightful pureed soup.

Jerusalem Artichokes aka Sunchokes

However, it’s important to note that you should enjoy sunchokes in moderation. A pound of these can feed two to four … and do resist the urge to eat them all yourself. They’re known to cause gas, and other stomach discomforts, which is exacerbated in painful ways when you eat a lot of them.

Yes. I know that from experience.

Where can you find them? Tangled Oak Farm tells me that they will be back at the Bangor Farmers’ Market this Sunday with the last of their crop.

The winter market has one last biweekly market scheduled for this Sunday, April 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside the Sea Dog Brewing Company at 26 Front Street, on the Bangor Waterfront.

(After that, the Bangor Farmer’s Market will head back outdoors in May, for the weekly summer market in the parking lot across the street from the library.)

Anyway, once you get these babies home, you need to stick ’em in the crisper drawer. Refrigerating them will keep them hard and ready for cooking.

Have you tried these?

What Are Sunchokes

Sunchokes
Author: 
Serves: serves 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb sunchokes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse the sunchokes under cold water, scrubbing lightly to remove any dirt. Cut into quarters and add to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine. Then pour onto a nonstick baking sheet, taking care not to over-crowd them. They need their space to cook well.
  3. Cook for 35-45 minutes, stirring once or twice. Enjoy immediately.

 

Looking for more sunchokes recipe ideas? Serious Eats has a great resource with several ideas.

 

 

Sarah Walker Caron

About Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News, and resident cook. She writes a cooking column, Maine Course, and is also author of "Grains as Mains: Modern Recipes Using Ancient Grains." Her recipes have appeared in the BDN, Betty Crocker publications, Glamour.com and more.