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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Cooking with Jerusalem artichokes

The Jerusalem artichoke has become a feature of modern cuisine. The potato-like root vegetable is appreciated for its fine, delicately nutty taste. Sliced or grated it gives fresh salads a special flavour. It can be combined with lamb’s lettuce, chicory and salsify, as well as apples. A dash of lemon juice prevents the brownish discolouration that occurs when it is exposed to the air. The typically nutty aroma develops during cooking. Jerusalem artichokes are a good accompaniment to fish and meat, and is tasty in creamy soups, sauces, in wok-fried vegetables, in casseroles and as a puree.

Origins and appearance

The Jerusalem artichoke arrived in Europe from North America in the early seventeenth century. It was grown as both a vegetable and animal feed, but was supplanted by the potato in the mid-eighteenth century. Nowadays, Jerusalem artichokes are an insider tip among foodies. Jerusalem artichoke plants (Helianthus tuberosus) grow up to two metres high. They are related to sunflowers and bloom from the late summer onwards with bright yellow flowers. The potato-size tubers grow, often in bizarre shapes, on the plant’s subterranean runners. 

Buying and growing

Jerusalem artichokes are available in well-stocked supermarkets and organic food shops, but they can also be easily grown in a kitchen garden. The unfussy plant grows well in virtually any type of soil and the tubers can be harvested from the autumn to the following spring. Leave them in the ground, well covered with earth, until you need them. They multiply prodigiously through offshoots, so once you have one in the garden, you’ll never need to plant another.

Very healthy, and okay for diabetics

Jerusalem artichokes are about 80% water, and therefore contain very few calories. They are very filling, though, because they are high in fibre. The fibre in Jerusalem artichokes, called inulin, has a very limited effect on blood-sugar levels, which means that they also fit well into a diabetic diet. The vegetable is rich in precious vitamins, such as provitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as minerals like potassium, calcium and iron. The tubers don’t have a long shelf life, so prepare them and eat them as soon as possible.

Source: Heike Kreutz,