Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunchokes and what is happening in the garden

 Dear Folks,

Dear Folks,

Thought I would visually catch you up on garden activity.

First up is an updated (day 18) on the new garden bed reclaimed from a mint monster.  One of the crook neck squash plants collapsed.  Not sure why, you can see the other looks good and so does the lettuce.  Not shown, I transplanted another nearby and am leaving the other one in, in case it decides to revive.

You can read the original blog post on this new bed at this link.

 Next up I posted at the beginning of the year my recipe for stuffed nasturtium leaves indicating just how big they were and so suitable for the purpose.  I thought I would show off one of the areas of very happy nastys and the size of a leaf.

Click here for the original recipe post.

Some extra edible ideas for these great cool weather lovers.  The immature seed is a burst of horseradish flavor. suitable for making dressings and mustard/horseradish type sauces.  Just do not over do it.

If you like the idea of the stuffed leaves, consider stuffing the flowers also.  Very pretty.  Both the flowers and leaves can be shredded into salads or folded into mashed potatoes for their nice peppery bite.

And my newest garden experiment is Sunchokes, Jerusalem Artichokes -- a member of the sunflower family - not the artichoke family (Helianthus tuberosus).

They can be eaten raw or cooked.  I will be researching some fun recipes to try and write about.  For the time being I saved out some to shave raw into a salad tonight and I'm also going to roast a couple with some onion and try them that way.  I will let you know how they turned out.  The raw taste is nice:  Crunchy, slightly sweet, close to a jicama taste and crunch by lighter.

So one ONE MORE plant?  As I like to explain to folks if I eat it or drink it I want to try growing it here in the garden.  The more healthy, multi-tasking edibles in our gardens the better for us and hopefully for you to also try.

Some facts about the Sunchokes.

As a member of the sunflower you can expect a tall 5-7+ feet plant with sunny wild type flower heads.  A perennial repeater that means it will grow, produce more under-ground tubers, flower, seed and then die back.  Reportedly if it is happy in your garden it can be invasive, so my plan and recommendation to you is to harvest ALL the tubers in the fall, then replant what and where you want them, rather than let them run amok - I have been there with plants and it is not a good idea :-)

Because they are very high in the fiber Inulin as opposed to carbohydrates, they are very healthy alternatives to potatoes (although do not drop potatoes from your diet they are good for you also, particularly the colored ones and if you leave the skins on them).

At 110 calories per cup, their high nutrient density including potassium is particularly noted.  The wikipedia link below has complete nutrient content info.

You can read up more at the wikipedia site.

If you have a nice sunny, well draining spot in the garden, consider adding this tuber to your garden.

In addition to the in-ground spot I chose for mine I am also trying out a single tuber in a large pot, and will track that progress for you.

Have a great week,

Catherine, The Herb Lady