Saturday, March 30, 2013

Something New

 
One of the goals I have for my garden each year is to try something new...a unique and distinct plant, fruit and/or vegetable.
 
The first year we were in our new house we tried growing the ground cherry. Cam remembered them being simply delicious, so, having never tired them for myself and trusting Cam implicitly on this one, we bought two different types of ground cherry seed. We diligently cared for them throughout the summer and harvested them just as fall set in. They were different than I was expecting and different from what Cam remembered; they were extremely sweet...almost too sweet. I had a hard time eating them they were so sweet. They, however, grew quite well, and when ripe, the husked fruit fell from the plant which made harvest easy. Unable to think of a creative way to use them, I decided to make a simple jam. I cooked the berries down until thick and canned them - no sugar required!
 
The second year in my garden I decided to try something that interested me. On a whim, I bought kohlrabi seeds and gave them a shot. This test run was much more rewarding. Kohlrabi are delicious! We picked them to simply grate onto our salads, we ate them raw as a snack, and I even discovered a kohlrabi slaw recipe we fell in love with! I made this slaw countless times last summer!! Needless to say, I will be growing this again!
 
This year, being the third year for my small homestead garden, I want to continue in my quest to learn new and healthy fruitage to grow for my family.
 
I've flipped through my garden seed catalogs, looked at the seed varieties at every store which sells them, and searched my supermarkets and farmers markets for interesting and new plant and/or produce varieties that I might be able to grow myself. At long last, after reading about it in a Better Homes & Gardens Magazine two years ago and finally being able to sample this produce for myself, I found the Sunchoke  or Jerusalem Artichoke.


This 'artichoke' is a tuber and is knobby just like ginger. In fact, I think they look a lot alike! But the flavor and nutritional composition is unlike that of most tubers. It's unique. It is high in protein and fiber, but low in oils. When cooked, it is a perfect replacement for potatoes for diabetics. It's low starch content and high inulin levels make it much more readily digestible for those with blood-sugar problems. When raw, it is crunchy and ever-so-slightly sweet (it reminds me of a jicama), making it a great snack stick, dipper, salad addition, or roasting candidate.
 
We were fortunate enough to find a bag of these precious tubers at our local grocery store and purchased them...without hesitation! We have been enjoying them every night since we bought them, they are that delicious!
 
So I guess you could say "I'm hooked!" So much in fact, that I searched out where I could buy these plants to make this my new gardening venture. I finally found them available through Gurney's Seed & Nursery, co., so I ordered some for this years garden! If I am successful in cultivating this delightful tuber, it may become a staple in my garden...and my kitchen!
 
I am so excited to grow this for my family this year and discover new and delicious ways to prepare it! I'm sure you will be seeing any delicious recipes I stumble upon or come up with to highlight this root!
 
Have you given Sunchokes a try? What did you think? Were there any recipes you've made that really make this tuber stand out? If not Sunchokes, is there anything you are trying new this year? Please share if you feel inclined to...I love to hear all about the new discoveries or experiments in homesteads everywhere!
 
Enjoy
 
 

4 comments:

  1. Oh dear!!! We grew them once. Very tasty but... A big but! In our house they were quickly named fartychokes. Lol

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    1. oh dear! So far, we have been fortunate enough not to have experienced the "fartychoke" aspect! We've been enjoying them in small doses, raw, in our salads. Hopefully, if we keep our intake on the smaller side (which will be hard for me if we are successful in growing them...I LOVE to snack on them!!!)this doesn't happen! Thanks for the heads up though! I will definitely be keeping it in mind!

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  2. How fun to try new things each year.
    We inherited a garden with Sunchokes. They are beautiful and wonderful to have in the garden & kitchen. Just be sure to plant them in a location where they can be "contained." They will quickly take over a garden area, with each little segment of a root sending up a new plant.
    All the best in gardening & life.
    Dawn

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    1. Thank you so much for the heads-up! I've read that in several of my gardening resource books as well, so now, having heard if from first-hand experience, I will definitely plant with some caution! I was thinking of planting them in large nursery pots and submerging the large pots in my garden soil. This would allow the sunchokes to be present in my garden but I can still have control of how much they spread! Thanks again for the advice, most definitely appreciated!!!

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