I was given a lunch bag full of dirty Jerusalem artichoke roots a handful of years ago and now I have a stand that is at least 500 square feet. It is in the center of my food forest. The stand acts like a giant sponge to absorb the extra water that floods my growing area now the natural hydrology was interrupted by the nearby housing developer. The stand provides shade for toads and in wet times, muddy crayfish tunnel into the mud around its tubers. And in August, the flowers are 10’tall. Every spring, I dig out 30-50# of chokes from my ever expanding bed to keep them form overwhelming my young quince and apple trees, which they would if I didn’t.
Chokes are a delicious wild perennial food. Darn easy to grow, but can be a lot of work to dig and wash and are really tough to store well. They either mold or dry out quickly once out of the ground and even if I keep them nice and muddy, I haven’t had the luck or skill to store then over two weeks. In other words, use them or process them immediately.
I almost broke my mother’s Kitchen Aid when I tried to make Jerusalem artichoke flour, an answer to my father’s diabetes and new anti-gluten faddists. I sliced them, dried the slices and then tried to first use the Cuisine Art to chop them up. Wrong tool so I went to the mixer. It beat on and on for 10 minutes. I threw a towel over the top of the entire machine to keep the fine clouds of dust down. Indeed I got flour and as well as some hard bits which I sifted out. It was tasty, but given the work I had to do, I had to think of another approach. And this is coming from someone pretty intrepid athlete with food processing. Making sunchoke flour takes second place for me just after creating my own dried pectin from wild crab apple skins.