I thought my first submission to Medium might be something much more esoteric and metaphysical, but during autumn I’m again weighing the merits and little known misery of sunchokes. I’m wondering if they are worth growing again. What do you think???
The Magic of Sunchokes
Not just pretty faces in the yard. They look like sunflowers. You might want to plant them just for that. They are a 6'+ tall, beautiful backdrop planted along a fence or a showy statement grown from a clump of tubers.
Eating the Tubers
- Sunchokes produce edible tubers with a texture similar to water chestnuts. They look similar in shape to ginger but sunchokes are white with a light tan, thin skin.
- Sunchokes can be eaten raw, baked, boiled, pickled, or fried.
- They have only 8 calories per 4-ounce serving.
- They are good for diabetics as a starch and potato substitute.
- Sunchoke flour (Good luck finding it) can be used by people who are allergic to wheat.
- They are high in iron, potassium and thiamine.
- The inulin in sunchokes is a pre-biotic and can help fight yeast infections and improve gut health.
- Plant sunchokes in late January to mid April and they will be ready to harvest October through March.
Eating raw sunchokes can cause flatulence in some people but cooking will reduce the gas-producing tendencies.
Don’t be fooled by the optimistic use of “some people” and “cooking will reduce.” That’s what you might read somewhere, but I’ve been giving sunchoke tubers to friends for years and have yet to hear anyone say they avoided a gassy episode after indulging, no matter how they were cooked or prepared. It always cracks me up.
The good news — a result from my own experiment— is that the inulin in sunchokes can be a barometer for how healthy your gut is. I read it on the web somewhere and wanted to check it out for myself.
Sunchoke harvest day in Sacramento came in October. I sliced up a handful of sunchokes for a salad. I’d been through this before and knew what to expect — farting all night. But this was an experiment, to see if I could eat them daily to the point where there would be no nightly farts.
It wasn’t so much my whisper-quiet farts that kept me awake this time. I was made aware of every fart that escaped the sheets because my HEPA air filter would crank up to Turbo every time it sensed an odor; otherwise, I would have been blissfully unaware just how much gas spewed out of my bowels while I slept. Luckily, Turbo let me know every single time. It would go from silence to Turbo sounding like a jet engine and wake me up. It was the opposite of white noise. And it was off and on all night.
Sunchoke casserole tonight. I’m getting braver and using more sunchokes, fewer potatoes. Like clockwork, farting started an hour later and on through the night, BUT my fart-sensing air filter didn’t wake me up as often. Were my innards getting healthier from the pre-biotic effect of the inulin? I was enthusiastic to try the next night.
Leftover sunchoke casserole. Just a few air filter Turbo episodes during the night.
Getting kinda tired of sunchokes by now but curiosity drove me on for another night. It’s Roasted Sunchokes this time. (Recipe is at my work-in-progress site https://www.astrology-recipes.com/SunChokes.htm )
Wow…No GAS during the night — at least nothing my HEPA filter deemed worthy of TURBO. I slept through the night. My body has wonderfully acclimated to the inulin. And I’m not feeling the usual bloat from my pre-sunchoke days. I want more of this stuff.
After giving away most of my sunchoke tubers to unsuspecting friends (partially as a practical joke), I found that I could buy inulin in powdered form which is what I’ll be doing. I’ve had my fill of sunchokes for awhile, but I do want the benefits of inulin for my health.
I’ve composted my backyard for 25+ years and have an abundance of redworms from my vermi-composting days and earthworms everywhere EXCEPT where the sunchokes grew. After unearthing that 6x6 plot, there wasn’t a sign of life in that soil.
My banty chickens, always so excited when they see me with a shovel (shovel=worms), were noticeably confused, as was I, when I dug up the sunchoke tubers to find nothing there for them to eat. No worms, millipedes, grubs, ants — all were oddly absent from the unearthed 6x6 plot. Did the inulin act as an insecticide?
I’m experimenting again. This time I’ve planted the tubers in a different plot where red worms and bugs are now thriving. I’ll check again next Fall. The chickens will be right on my heels.
A quick, easy read about inulin is at WebMD https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1048/inulin