Have you ever heard of "Jerusalem Artichokes" or "Topinambur"? To be very honest with you - I hadn't..until the end of last year when all of a sudden the tuber vegetable seemed to everywhere I went. I assume, I just never had an eye for it before because it must have been there before. Topinambur is a tuber vegetable - very similar to potatoes in its treatment - that is freshly available during the cold German / European winter months in which fresh, local produce is scarce. Hence going "all seasonal", Jerusalem Artichokes are a perfect veggie to befriend and integrate into your diet during winter season. But there's more to the veggie than it's fresh availability in Winter. Read on.
Let's start with the taste. The tuber vegetable Topinambur, which is closely related to the sunflower from a botanical point of view and the potato when it comes to prepping and serving, has a mildly earthy flavor when consumed raw. on top comes a sweet and nutty note once the fibrous veggie is cooked or oven-roasted. When I tried Jerusalem artichokes for the first time, I was really surprised by this new and unknown flavor profile. Based on my preparation, I expected a mild potato flavor. Though, the flavor was far from anything I had ever tasted before. - in a positive way of course! :)
Like all plant foods, Topinambur comes with a very unique nutrient profile. The veggie, for example, contains a considerable amount of potassium (429mg /100g) and iron (3.4mg /100g) - which contributes to our overall health and - iron in particular - good hair growth. But the veggie's main "specialty" is its impressive amount of inulin. Unlike its starchy friend the potato, the low-fat Jerusalem Artichokes contain, in total 1.6g of fibre per 100g whereof 76% comes from inulin. Inulin is a type of dietary fibre and prebiotic known for its gut supporting abilities. Besides, the water-soluble type of fibre also serves as a flavor carrier and is therefore widely used in the food industry.
But be careful: If you aren't used to a regular dietary fibre intake, a good amount of Topinambur may, in the worst case, act as a natural laxative and could potentially cause flatulence. Therefore, I recommend to start integrating Topinambur slowly into your diet - with one or two tubers in the beginning and a gradual increase over time.
Unlike starchy potatoes, Topinambur can be enjoyed "as-is" / in its raw state. However, you decide how you like the mildly nutty veggie best. I personally love to roast Topinambur as a whole in the oven. Before I bake it, I give the veggie a thorough clean, then dry it and eventually coat it with frying oil and a pinch of salt and place it in the oven - that's. Jerusalem artichokes DON'T have to be peeled - unless desired. Depending on the size it takes between 25min-1h until ready at 180°C (Ober-Unterhitze). If you cut the veggie in chunks the roasting time further reduces.
If you want to peel your Jerusalem artichokes, I recommend to cook/blanch the tuber veggie 1-2 min in boiling water, take it out, quench it under cold water and peel it like a potato. The peel should pop off much easier this way. The same process applies to freezing the veggie. Just blanch it for a few minutes, peel it and cut it into small chunks or sticks and place it into a freezer bag which you pop into your freezer for later use.
Another note on storing Topinambur: The tuber veggie can be treated like a potato when it comes to storage. If you have a cold cellar where you store your potatoes, just place your Jerusalem artichokes next to it. There, they should stay fresh for months. In case you don't have a cellar, wrap your veggie into a lightly moist paper towel and place it into the vegetable drawer of your fridge until usage. This will ensure the tuber doesn't dry out and stays fresh in the fridge. I recommend to use it within one to two weeks though if you keep the Jerusalem artichoke in your cool veggie drawer.
Well.. this question isn't too easy to answer. You can do many different things with the veggie. You can turn it into a delicious soup, crunchy chips, oven-roast the veggie as a whole, serve it as a starter snack or cut it into very fine Julienne sticks and serve it in a raw salad hero. Possibilities are endless.
I personally love to go "as seasonal as possible" and recently served it with a parsnip purée e and a super spicy red bell pepper salsa and a pecan crunch topping. The combination of the sweet apple-parsnip puree, the spicy salsa and the mildly nutty/earthy Jerusalem artichokes tasted amazing. Find the recipe here.
I hope you enjoyed this little read on my new seasonal winter veggie hero "Topinambur / Jerusalem artichokes" Like always, I would love to hear how you prep the seasonal veggie, see your delicious results and share them on my social channels. Hence, make sure to tag me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.
Besides, if you have any feedback for me, questions with regards to the recipe or if you just want to say "hey", comment below or shoot me a personal message through my contact form.
Love & Plants, Karo