By Lynn Kirkland
As it is Easter it seemed timely to talk about a plant with Jerusalem in its name and one that is in full flower and providing us with drifts of sunflower like brightness in the garden.
Yes its looks tell us that it is in the same family as sunflowers and the botanical name confirms this. Sunflowers are helianthus annus, meaning annual. Jerusalem artichokes are helianthus tuberosus, referring to their edible tubers and these plants are perennial.
It is regarded as a herb because of its culinary benefits and we tend to
enjoy it as a landscaping herb here at the herb farm. There is a lovely
drift along the streambed, which is bone dry so it's nice to have the bright
yellow taking our mind off the drought.
If you wish to eat them or replant them somewhere else, the tubers are dug after flowering later in autumn or can be dug in spring before they start to put their efforts into growing leaves and then flowers.
The tubers contain inulin which is a healthy carbohydrate linked to intestinal health due to its prebiotic properties. However, a word of warning, it can be linked also to a potent wind-producing effect!
They also are a good source of iron and vitamin C as well as phosphorus and potassium.
I have found a recipe in an old herb society newsletter for those wanting to try them.
Wash the knobbly tubers well and steam them.
Slice them thinly and serve with 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary leaves and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Sprinkle liberally with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Healthy to eat and gorgeous for adding to the beauty of the autumn garden. Why not consider the Jerusalem artichoke for yours.