What Are Sunchokes? Are They the Same as Jerusalem Artichokes?

Sunchokes
Sunchokes photo by foodcollection/Getty Images

What are sunchokes? Wondering about those funny little tubers labeled "sunchokes" or "Jerusalem artichokes" at the store? Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes, are an edible tuber that grows underground, much like a potato.

What Is a Sunchoke or Jerusalem Artichoke?

The sunchoke, or Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), is an edible tuber that grows underground, much like a potato. They look a little bit like large knobs of ginger.

They taste slightly nutty and savory like a cross between an artichoke heart and the best potato you've ever had.

Native Americans cultivated them and they became a popular crop in Europe after colonization of the Americas. They fell out of popularity until just the past couple of decades. 

How to Cook Sunchokes

Unlike potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw, and have gained popularity as a salad topper amongst advocates of a raw food diet. Grated or thinly sliced, they add a bit of crunch and texture to a raw green salad, much like jicama.

Sunchokes can be steamed, boiled, grilled, fried, or even microwaved, much like potatoes.

Boil them in water for 10 to 15 minutes or until soft. Larger sunchokes will need a bit longer, and, just like potatoes, you can chop them up first to get them to cook a bit quicker. they tend to get a bit mushy when boiled, so steaming them is a better choice.

To grill sunchokes, slice them thin and brush with olive oil. Or, wrap in a foil packet drizzled with oil.

Another option is to roast sunchokes in the oven. Heat the oven to 375 F, drizzle your coarsely chopped sunchokes with oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until soft and golden brown.

 

Can You Eat the Skins?

Though the skins of sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes are indeed edible, some people find the taste too earthy. Others like the natural taste of the skins and find it part of the earthy charm of the sunchoke. However, the skins have some stringy bits and they are best trimmed before eating or cooking.