Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pickled Sunchokes? What's a Sunchoke?

We have been buying sunchokes, also known as a Jerusalem artichoke, from our farmers market. It is a small root vegetable that looks like a cross between ginger root and a potato. I recently learned that it is neither from Jerusalem nor is an artichoke. The sunchoke is native to the United States and is a knobby tuber that comes from the root of a plant called Helianthus tuberosus. This tuber is healthy as it is rich in vitamin C, phosphorus, thiamine, iron, and potassium.

As a child, my Mom would buy sunchokes and we would snack on them raw or in a salad. This tuber has a very different flavor raw than it does cooked. When eaten raw it resembles the flavor of jicama, although not as watery, and a sweet turnip. When cooked, it resembles the flavor of a white potato. It is delicious!

Over the years, my Mom would bring up the sunchoke and I searched for the choke with no avail. When I came across sunchokes at the Durham farmers market, I was ecstatic to have them back in my life again. Piedmont Biofarm, one of my favorite local farms, had them in their booth one warm Saturday. I was so delighted to see the root after all of these years. John had never heard of them, but was willing to give them a taste.

We both loved their flavor and continued to buy them and add them to salad for a bit of crunch. Piedmont Biofarm was even nice enough to suggest a new way to eat the sunchoke by sauteing them with some olive oil and onion. We followed their advise and were not disappointed.

Recently, I came across a recipe to pickle the choke. I like cucumbers, okra, beans, and peppers pickled and I thought a sunchoke would be just as delightful pickled. I didn’t much care for the recipe that I found so, I used the recipe as a guideline and made up my own.

  • Sunchokes (about a pound and a half to two pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 1 ¾ cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  • ¾ c water
  • ½ Tbsp of whole mustard seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
Mix the lemon juice in a bowl of cool water (the sunchokes will rest in here, so make sure the bowl is big enough to hold the chokes). Peel the sunchokes and cut into rounds. Transfer as cut to lemon water.

Bring vinegar, salt, water, mustard seeds, turmeric, and cayenne to boil in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Cool brine to room temperature.

Cook sunchokes and onion in a large pot of boiling water for several minutes until tender. Drain and let sit to cool. Put vegetables in a glass/ceramic bowl or Mason jar and pour brine over them. Make sure that the veggies are submerged and chill. Stir once or twice a day and allow them to marinate for at least 1 week (to allow flavors to develop). You can start snacking on them whenever you like, but the longer they are in the brine, the better they will taste.

The end result is a homemade, crunchy pickle that makes a great snack!


affectioknit said...

Those look amazing and I'm sure they're delicious! We used to get Jerusalem Artichokes in NC...of course I've not seen them up here...

Hannah said...

Oh man, I -love- sunchokes, but they're so darned hard to find around here! I would make these pickles in a heart-beat if I just had a reliable source... They look fantastic.

Ben Brinson said...

It is late March 2015. Is it too late to pickle sunchokes?I'm in eastern NC and some of my sunchokes are beginning to sprout.

VeggieAmanda said...

I think it would be a perfect time. :-)

Anonymous said...

How long will they keep after removing them from the brine? Can you process them in the jars and
seal them?

VeggieAmanda said...

Hey Anonymous! I kept them in the brine in the fridge for about 6 months and they were fine. I am not sure about removing them from the brine. I have never canned any items, so I am unfamiliar with that process. However, I do not see why they could not be canned. I hope your batch turns out well!