Saturday 17 November 2018

Reasons for growing Jerusalem artichokes

I rather like Jerusalem artichokes. They have a sweet, nutty taste and make a pleasant addition to your choice of root crop. At the moment, and through the winter, they are in plentiful supply if you happen to grow them. When they are needed, just fork a few of the tubers up. We boil them with their skins on. They should not be boiled too long as they turn mushy so you need to keep an eye on them and use a knife to check when they are soft enough to take off the heat. We also like to bake them with a coating of olive oil. 

Jerusalem artichokes have a reputation for producing certain anti-social digestive side-effects. There is a reason for this. They are composed of a different form of carbohydrate than potatoes. The carbohydrate in Jerusalem artichokes is in the form of inulin which is a type of starch that the body cannot digest but is metabolised by bacteria in the colon. Personally, I don’t experience this problem to any extent myself (but then I’m very similar to the Queen in many respects). Garden writer Alys Fowler, who says she tucks into lots of Jerusalem artichokes each winter, suggests that the way to obviate the problem is to eat small amounts and become gradually accustomed to them. 

Apart from their unique taste, Jerusalem artichokes are high in potassium and B vitamins as well as being a source of dietary fibre. Another reason for growing them is that they are vigorous growers and make a useful annual wind-breaking hedge (I know, ha ha). I grow mine along one end of a vegetable plot for this very reason.

Jerusalem artichokes are easy to grow. Plant tubers a foot apart about 4 inches deep. It helps if the soil is enriched so that you get larger tubers. They can grow about 10 feet during the summer, but I trim mine when they reach 6 feet to reduce the risk of wind rock pushing the stems askew. The leaves die off as winter approaches and the stems can then be cut down. It’s best to harvest as many of the tubers as you can so that the following year larger tubers result rather than an over abundance of small ones. There’ll always be enough left in the ground to regrow for the next season’s crop. 

If you’ve not tried them before then have ago, just go easy to begin with.


  1. I don't think that I have ever eaten a Jerusalem Artichoke. This post has made me want o try some, even if I don't grow my own! What do you serve them with? Is there any particular meat they go well with?

  2. I think we tend to have them from time as an alternative to potatoes. Sometimes with a Mediterranean style meal which involves chicken with roasted vegetables like peppers and aubergines.