Sunchokes AKA Jerusalem Artichokes = Delicious! And Intriguing... October 30 2016
Sunchokes, or Jerusalem Artichokes, are tubers - potato-like in texture but with a surprisingly delightful mild artichoke taste. Especially fresh from Red Wagon Farm!
This makes the artichoke part of the name clear. So what's with the Jerusalem? No one is entirely sure, but a good guess is that Italian Americans called them girasole artichokes. The gi in Italian is a letter combo that is pronounced like "j" in English - jirasole. And girasole is Italian for sunflower, which the top of these plants resemble. Then time and non-Italian speakers morphed it into "Jerusalem".
These tubers are tasty and also super interesting nutritionally. Get ready to get a little science nerd here - those of you watching what types of carbs and sugars you eat will find this interesting.
Though they seem starchy like potatoes, they actually have very little starch comparatively and, at harvest time, are usually majority inulin. Here we go... Inulin is a form of carbohydrate, a chain of fructose molecules (the fruit sugar!). But unlike carbohydrates made of chains of different sugars that we consider starches, it is not absorbed in the upper digestive tract. Rather, bacteria in the colon ferment it, and it's considered a fiber.
The upshot? These are potentially great options for folks watching their blood sugar because they digest in a way that does not spike blood sugar levels a ton.
Inulin also is considered a pre-biotic (not a typo!) - something that stimulates the growth of helpful bacteria in the colon.
However, if you're bacteria balance is out of whack, inulin may be too difficult to digest at all. So if you're super sensitive, they may not be the best for you. And if these are stored after being picked, the inulin (remember it's a chain of the fructose sugars) actually converts into straight up fructose, making these guys sweeter - so delicious - and another digestive ballgame.
Nerd out more in depth here.