JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE: Uses and Benefits

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Helianthus

Species: Helianthus Tuberosus

Common Name: Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunroot, Sunchoke, Earth Apple, Topinambour

Jerusalem artichoke is a herbaceous perennial related to sunflower native to North America, today widely cultivated across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable, eaten both raw and cooked. Needing plenty of space to grow, this perennial is ideal when planted as a windbreak or screen. Its stem can very tall 2 to 3 meter, leaves have a rough, hairy texture. Can be found in uncultivated land which have previously been cultivated, near lakes, forests, wet meadows. Jerusalem artichokes are easy to cultivate, which tempts gardeners to simply leave them completely alone to grow. The quality of the edible tubers degrades, however, unless the plants are dug up and replanted in fertile soil. Because even a small piece of tuber will grow if left in the ground, the plant can ruin gardens by overshadowing nearby plants and can take over huge areas. Each root can make an additional 75 to 200 tubers during a year resulting in a plant . Harvest the tubers in late autumn or the winter and either replant the tubers immediately or store them in a cool but frost-free place and plant them out in early spring.

CULINARY USE: The tuber develops a pleasant sweetness during the winter, generally best cooked, and can be used as a substitute for potatoes because they have a similar consistency, and in their raw form have a similar texture, but a sweeter, nuttier flavor; raw and sliced thinly (especially if they were previously frozen) are a fantastic healthy fit for a salad. Jerusalem artichokes work well both boiled, roasted, braised, sautéed or stir-fried. Tubers are rich in inulin that stored for any length of time converts into its component fructose.

MEDICINAL USE: The plant is reported to be  aphrodisiac, cholagogue, diuretic, spermatogenetic, digestive and tonic, Jerusalem artichoke is a folk remedy for diabetes and rheumatism. Many of these health effects can be attributed to the ability of inulin to stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria. Naturally present in the large intestine, bifidobacteria fight harmful bacteria in the intestines reducing intestinal concentrations of certain carcinogenic enzymes, prevent constipation, and give the immune system a boost. Jerusalem artichokes are rich in iron and provide even more potassium than bananas which are famous for their high potassium content: a 100-gram portion of raw Jerusalem artichokes delivers 429 milligrams of potassium, such mineral is essential for good health and it is particularly important for a healthy heart and properly functioning muscles. By eating Jerusalem artichokes and other potassium-rich foods you may also improve the health of your bones and even reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Potassium-containing foods are considered particularly beneficial for people who eat a lot of salty food.

The plants are a good source of biomass. The tubers are used in industry to make alcohol etc. The alcohol fermented from the tubers it’s said to be of better quality than the one from sugar beets. 

 


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