I know it doesn’t look like much. In fact, it’s neither an artichoke nor is it from Jerusalem. They’re a tuber at the base of a variety of sunflower, but don’t let their knobby texture fool you into thinking they’re tough and tasteless: the Jerusalem artichoke (or “sunchoke”) is a tender tuber that (I think) tastes like nuts would, if nuts were vegetables.
My parents plant Jerusalem artichokes in their driveway, because the tall leafy greens provide a nice screen between their house and the garbage-strewn front lawn of our hoarding neighbour. Plus you don’t have to harvest them until mid-fall, so the screen stays up extra long.
Then you take the ones you want to eat and scrub them silly. We’re going to do a little feature on Jerusalem artichokes this week, so we have plenty to go through. Many recipes call for peeling these things, but I never bother. The skin is where all the vitamins are, after all, and I can only imagine that peeling them is an exercise in insanity.