The Marmite of the vegetable world is back. We know we will never convert you all to these knobbly roots, but if you have never tasted Jerusalem artichokes, now is the time to give them a go. They are a farmer’s dream: easy to grow, with no significant pests or diseases. In fact, the biggest challenge is keeping them under control. Jerusalem artichokes have a nutty, sweet flavour that works well in all sorts of dishes. Look out for them over the next few weeks; we promise not to go OTT.
It’s no surprise that Jerusalem artichokes grow well in the UK; they like being cool and damp. If you store them in the bottom of your fridge they should last several weeks. They may be rather gnarly-looking, but there’s no need to peel them unless you want to; just soak them in water to loosen any mud and give them a scrub. The main argument from the anti-camp tends to be their legendary flatulence-inducing properties. Think baked beans and multiply by ten and you might be getting close. If you’re losing friends over these humble roots, try cooking them with bay leaves, or eating alongside fennel. They also seem to be kinder to the digestive system eaten raw.
You can use Jerusalem artichokes in much the same way as potatoes: think roasted, baked, boiled, mashed and in gratins and stews. But they are surprisingly versatile and also work well cooked lightly in stir fries or sliced thinly into salads. They have a tendency to go black once cut, so work as quickly as you can. If you are eating them raw, it’s worth sprinkling them with a little lemon juice to help prevent this. To roast them, toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil, spread them out on a baking tray with some herbs, garlic and seasoning and roast for about half an hour until tender. They are good mixed with other roasted root veg, so play around with whatever you get in your box. Perhaps best of all is making a sweet, nutty-flavoured soup. There are plenty of recipes on the website if you get stuck. And let us know whether you’re a lover or a hater; join the debate at www.facebook.com/riverford.