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Easy to grow and use (once you know how): Jerusalem artichokes.

Easy to grow and use (once you know how): Jerusalem artichokes

The problem with Jerusalem artichokes isthat few people know quite what to do with them. They look sort of like lumpy potatoes, but if you treat them the same way, they shrivel in storage and turn to mush or leather when cooked.

Like spuds, however, they're prolific andeasy to grow. In meals, they're as quick and crunchy as water chestnuts. You can eat the tubers raw--shredded or sliced into a salad or marinade--or steam or saute them just until tender-crisp when pierced by a fork. Add parsley, garlic, butter, or any other seasonings you would add to potatoes, and you have a dish to anticipate with pleasure. For more recipes, see page 194 of the June 1986 Sunset.

Shown at left are four kinds now available.All taste and grow similarly, but the three smoother-skinned kinds are easier to clean and cut.

Planting, digging, storing

To plant, loosen soil in a site in full sunand poke tubers into the ground as early as soil is workable in spring. Place them 5 inches deep, 1 to 2 feet apart, in staggered rows. Water when surface of soil dries.

Around November, when leaves begin toshrivel, you can dig up tubers to eat--up to 10 pounds per plant. Wash and refrigerate small quantities as you are ready to use them; cleaned tubers last several weeks in the refrigerator.

For longer-term storage, dig them up asyou need them; they'll keep in the ground until spring. Or dig them up, shake off soil, cover with barely damp sawdust or sand in a box, and store in a cool place until spring.

In spring, before new growth starts, digup excess tubers or they'll become pests.

You can start the old knobby type byplanting firm, plump tubers from the grocery store. For new smooth-skinned types, order by mail from Seeds Blum, Idaho City Stage, Boise, Idaho 83706 (catalog $2). One pound of tubers costs $5.

Photo: Three new, smoother kinds of Jerusalemartichoke tubers are easier to scrub and slice than the old knobby kind (lower left). All taste similar to water chestnuts

Photo: Like sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokeplants form a dense, 8- to 10-foot-tall screen within about two months
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1987
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