Eating in season in the winter can be a little challenging, but not if you try new things!
Have you heard of Sunchokes? They’re a crunchy, nutty tasting tuberous root (like potatoes are) that is part of the sunflower family, and they are native to North America! The Native Americans watched and harvested them throughout what is now the central United States, and certainly used them for trade with other tribes and with the colonists. In the 1600’s, one man eating them in the colonies wrote that they tasted like artichokes, and they were mistakenly called Jerusalem Artichokes for a long time, even though they have nothing to do with Jerusalem or artichokes. Sometimes you can still find them by that name, but most often they are called Sunchokes these days.
But what is the best part? They’re available in late winter and early spring! They come in colors from light honey brown to almost purple, and should be firm when you buy them. They grow underground, so you will have to wash the dirt off of them like you do when you buy potatoes. They will keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks.
They are easy to cook, and taste great as part of a roasted root vegetable mix, sliced very thin and fried like potato chips, blended into a soup, or eaten raw in salads. When you eat them raw, they are crunchy like a radish, and cooking them makes them sweeter and a bit nutty tasting. They are healthy too! Sunchokes have potassium, iron, fiber, and are lower in carbohydrate than a potato.
When they are cut they oxidize, or turn brown (like an apple does) so you need to use them right away or put them in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice.