Jerusalem Artichokes are not in reality an artichoke at all, but these nutrient-rich tubers should be a part of every food survival plan for preppers. They were once planted by native Americans along any trail they frequented simply to ensure a viable food source would still be handy as they traveled.
Sunchokes, as artichokes are often usually referred in Jerusalem, often get a bad reputation for being intrusive. Such hardy plants, including honeysuckle and mint, grow in great abundance – but from a survival food viewpoint, that’s not a bad thing.
Not only do Jerusalem artichokes flourish in leaps and bounds after they are planted, there may be no other crop that thrives so expansively even if ignored. You can only plant the sunchokes in a spacious place and out of the way and, well … forget them until it’s time to harvest.
Why Preppers Should Grow Artichokes
Every single Jerusalem artichoke plant is capable of producing a minimum of 75 to as many as 200 tubers in just one growing year. You can harvest the tubers from spring right through to the winter months at any time.
Since sunchokes are a perennial crop, you don’t need to spend time planting them again in every growing season. In reality, Jerusalem artichokes will seed themselves over and over again.
When you grow this ideal gardening plant for survival, you can simply place it in the ground and forget it until you’re ready to harvest. It will thrive in any form of soil, is highly resistant to drought, and weeding is not even necessary during the growing season.
Most Jerusalem artichoke plants can also be used to feed your livestock for survival. Hogs, goats, cattle, chickens, sheep, ducks, rabbits, guineas, and turkeys can safely eat the sunchoke plant’s stems, leaves, and blossoms. Hogs (or pigs, if that is how the animals in your woods neck are referred to) are also susceptible to eating the tubers.
Horses, which will possibly once again become the primary mode of transportation during a SHTF situation, can also eat the sections of the above mentioned sunchoke plant. I plant rows of Jerusalem artichokes along the edges of the field for the horses to eat late in the fall when much of the grass has already been eaten.
What Is A Tuber?
It is the tuber on the Jerusalem artichoke that people prefer to most to feast on. A tuber is the swollen stem of a plant which can be located underground. Jerusalem artichokes tubers vary in color from red to purple, to brown, and white.
The sunchoke tuber’s inner flesh is still white and very ginger-like, but in form is much more knobby. The tubers on this vegetable plant have a taste similar to nut. Jerusalem artichoke tubers are more crisp and sweet than potatoes, and smaller.
Nutrient Value And Healing Properties
These tubers have a large protein value but less starch than potato. Sunchoke tubers contain a small amount of inulin, a prebiotic fiber typically used in all-natural home remedies as an ingredient. These probiotics may help to increase the production of bifidobacteria – healthy bacteria that can prevent the development of harmful bacteria, which can help to reduce certain carcinogenic enzymes.
Such tubers also contain large quantities of trace minerals, iron, electrolytes, copper, fiber, and potassium. Sunchokes can help lower blood pressure by counteracting effectively the effect of sodium on the human body.
Jerusalem artichokes tubers reportedly boast a higher protein content compared to corn, soybeans, beans, or wheat. On sunchoke plants, both stems and leaves contain about 28 percent protein – that number is twice the amount of protein contained in corn.
They also produce lower amounts of folates and other vitamins in the B-complex, such as thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Jerusalem Artichoke Facts
● They are members of the Helianthus genus, the same genus as sunflowers belong.
● Sunchokes typically grow between eight to 15 feet tall.
● The leaves on sunchokes resemble those found on sunflowers. They have yellow flowers that grow large and do not bloom until late in the summer – sometimes they remain blooming long after sunflowers have gone to seed.
● Exactly how Jerusalem artichokes got their name remains a bit of a mystery – they have no connection to Jerusalem at all. These plants are native to North America and might have originated along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
● Native American tribes often used sunchokes as a companion crop for sweet corn and beans.
● Jerusalem artichokes can be harvested in the spring when the inulin properties are at their peak, or at the end of summer after they have finished flowering and their stalks begin to fall over.
How To Grow Jerusalem Artichokes
In the spring, plant the sunchokes after the chance of hard frost is over. Jerusalem a rtichokes are usually planted in mid-March through early April – depending on your growing area.
Till the ground to turn it and expose the nutrient-rich and softer soil below. Plant at least four sunchokes but no more than six inches deep. They don’t transplant well, though you can start them in a container and move them into the ground.
The Jerusalem artichokes should be planted in a sunny spot in either community as you would do a five-foot-wide bush or shrub, or line. The tubers in the soil should be lined about one foot apart.
Jerusalem artichokes require at least 90 days to fully mature. It is recommended that sunchokes grow on agricultural zones 3 through 8. Since these perennial vegetables are better suited for colder climates, they are not likely to generate a solid yield if they are planted in a climate that boasts temperatures higher than those in agricultural growing zone 8.
Remember, Jerusalem artichokes grow to some very tall heights, don’t plant them at a place that will shade your other crops. Always make sure that every sunchoke tuber features at least one “hand” or it does not develop. Even the tiniest little tuber stub, as long as he has an eye, continues to grow.
Consider mulching around the young plants as they come up to shield them from the frost if you encounter a cold early spring.
There are several common and popular varieties of Jerusalem artichokes:
1. Sugarball – This variety produces white and small tubers that taste delicious when roasted.
2. Fuseau – The tubers you will harvest from this variety of Jerusalem artichoke boast a smoky flavor. These very large and smooth tubers increase the weight of your yield.
3. White French Mammoth – This type of sunchoke produces an especially knobby tuber that is fairly large.
Harvesting Jerusalem Artichokes
To pick sunchokes, just dig them out of the ground as you would potatoes, the tubers. You can harvest them as soon as they mature or leave them to winter in the field and dig them up when you want to enjoy a fresher tuber. Some gardeners staunchly insist that waiting for a frost to be introduced to the tubers – or even two, gives them an even sweeter taste.
If you want the tubers to grow longer through the year, add a one foot mulch layer after the first frost to keep them from freezing.
Plant Diseases And Destructive Insects
I’m not going to say that Jerusalem artichokes are entirely immune to plant disease and pests, but not much of the tubers or stunts their growth. When you grow these perennial vegetables, the only real problem you may encounter is the rate at which they grow and want to take over a whole room.
Eating Jerusalem Artichokes
You can eat both cooked and raw Jerusalem artichokes. To be eaten alone or as part of a casserole dish, they are often sauteed, mashed, or even roasted. If the sunchoke tubers that can be ground and used as flour are washed and dried. Usually consuming freshly harvested sunchokes does not induce any increase in blood sugar as potatoes frequently do because these tubers have a low score on the glycemic index.
How To Cook Jerusalem Artichokes
1. Wash and peel (or just scrub) them just as you would when preparing ginger roots.
2. Using a sharp and sturdy knife, slice up the tubers.
3. The most common way to prepare Jerusalem artichokes is to roast them in oil – coconut or olive oil both work great.
4. Season the tubers with your favorite spices – I prefer garlic, salt, pepper, and a pinch of oregano.
Do not wash and clean the sunchoke tubers until you are ready to prepare them, as they easily discolor after being either peeled or scrubbed and exposed to water. Monitor the tuber roasting or cooking closely before you get more experience with the right combination of time and heat to use – Jerusalem artichoke tubers will quickly transform to mush.
Also you can replace Jerusalem artichokes with potatoes in almost every recipe that calls for them. In general, the sunchokes have a mild taste that blends with the other ingredients that join them in the cook pot or casserole.
Although the heft yield provided by Jerusalem artichokes is a much less popular way to use, you can also juice them or make them into a wine-style beverage.