Crisp, sweet, spicy, and sour, these pickled Jerusalem artichoke tubers are a tasty snack on their own. They are also excellent served alongside curried dishes.
Jerusalem artichokes are neither artichokes nor from Jerusalem, but rather a native North American relative of sunflowers. Their gnarly tubers are good cooked or raw, especially after they’ve been in the ground for a freezing cold night or two. In fact, I dislike the taste of them until after a couple of freezes have converted some of their musty-flavored starch into sugar. After that, I find them delicious.
Also sold under the name “sunchoke,” Jerusalem artichokes are fantastic pickled. A bonus is that the pickling process seems to help minimize the infamous fart factor associated with this vegetable (although that may have more to do with the smaller quantity you’re likely to eat of the pickled version than you would of blander preparations).
You can find this plant growing wild in North America or cultivated on at least three continents (see Northeast Foraging for more on how to identify and harvest this plant in the field). Jerusalem artichokes are extremely easy to grow if you have a spot that gets plenty of sun: just cut one of the tubers into a few pieces and plant them.
Sweet and Sour Pickled J-chokes
Makes 3 pints
In a large bowl, combine:
Juice of 1 lemon OR 2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
Scrub clean (no need to peel) and chop into chunks no thicker than 1/2-inch:
1 1/2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes
Drop the chopped J-choke pieces into the acidulated water so that they do not discolor.
In a second container, combine:
3 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher other non-iodized salt
Stir to dissolve the salt. Drain the J-chokes that are in the acidulated water and transfer them to the salt brine. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours (or as long as 24 – I did this accidentally the second time I made these, and didn’t notice any difference in the finished pickle).
Get your boiling water bath set up if you plan on canning your jars of pickled Jerusalem artichokes (see step 4 below).
Combine the following ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes:
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice or spicebush berries (leave out the black pepper if using spicebush)
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 whole clove
3. Filling the jars
Drain the J-chokes and rinse them under cold water to remove excess salt. Load them into clean jars, leaving an inch of head space.
Divide the following between the jars:
1 bay leaf, broken into a few pieces
3 small hot chile peppers (optional)
Pour the hot brine over the J-chokes, leaving at least 1/2-inch of head space (the liquid should completely cover the other ingredients).
It’s fine if some of the spices from the brine end up in the jars, but if you want a clear golden brine rather than turmeric “mud” at the bottom of the jars, then first strain it through a muslin bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
Wipe the rims of the jars dry and secure the lids.
4. Canning (optional)
If you’d rather skip the canning step, store your pickled Jerusalem artichokes in the refrigerator.
If you want to seal the jars and safely store them at room temperature, first sterilize the empty jars by immersing them in rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes, then process the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Here are the boiling water bath instructions from Preserving Everything.
“This is an essential book for anyone interested in food preservation.” – Ellen Zachos
“A book that wild food gatherers of all skill levels will want to own.” – Sam Thayer