Spring is almost here, but the last whispers of winter weather still limit the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available right now. Cold temperatures don't bother the formidable sunchoke, though. This tuber hits its stride after a frost.
Unfamiliar with sunchokes? You may also know them by their former name, Jerusalem artichokes. Why the change? Well, they are neither from Jerusalem nor are they artichokes. They're native to America, and while their taste resembles that of artichokes, sunchokes are actually more closely related to potatoes.
How to choose them
Steer clear of sunchokes with brown or black spots. The flesh should feel firm to the touch; sponginess is a sign that it's passed its prime.
How to use them
Like apples and potatoes, sunchokes turn brown rapidly after they're peeled. Toss them with a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar to slow the oxidation process. Aluminum and iron can also cause the color to darken, so keep that in mind when you're choosing pots and pans.
It's very easy to overcook sunchokes, so don't leave them unattended for too long. Warm up with sunchoke soup, or liven up a simple salad by adding thinly shaved, raw sunchokes. The tubers have a delicate flavor that complements light proteins like chicken and fish.
How to store them
Wrap sunchokes in plastic and store them in the crisper drawer. Depending on how fresh they are when you buy them, they can last up to two weeks.