Friday, 31 October 2014

Jerusalem artichoke – breaking news

So, what’s new in the world of Jerusalem artichoke, I hear you ask.

Well, Helianthus tuberosus has made the headlines on a few occasions recently. The Daily Mail, that repository of informed opinion, for example, reported on the case of Lyndsey Glassett, who returned home after a weekend away and was devastated to find that her Jerusalem artichoke plants had been sprayed and had died. The 67-year old liked to slow-cook the tubers in wine or grate them raw into salads. She watched the CCTV of her garden, and discovered that her sister, who lives across the road from her in Broxbourne, Kent, had done the deed. They have been at loggerheads for several years, apparently, and she accused her of killing the plants out of spite. She claims, rather unconvincingly in my opinion, that she was doing it because they looked like weeds. The case went to court: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2807205/Artichoke-war-Gardener-tells-court-prized-plants-destroyed-sister-says-thought-just-weeds.html

It was National Chocolate Day this week, and Glamour magazine (again, not my usual reading I must admit) somehow managed to lump Jerusalem artichoke in with a bunch of ingredients du jour. “Beaming Superfood Cookie…  you won't believe all the other good stuff that's in this sweet treat: applesauce, Beaming Protein with greens (hemp protein, chia seed, yellow pea protein, brown rice protein, maca, mesquite, lucuma, vanilla, Jerusalem artichoke, coconut, sugar, cinnamon, Himalayan pink salt, chlorella, blue green algae, spirulina), coconut sugar, vanilla, sea salt, vegan chocolate chips, and sliced almonds.” It’s pretty unbelievable, I guess, but I did cut-and-paste it, so it must be true. For more healthy chocolate ideas: http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2014/10/healthy-chocolate-ideas

Jerusalem artichoke have become a little bit fashionable again in restaurants, after many years of being neglected. This may continue this winter, as they are just coming into season again. For example, writing of a visit to Norse in Harrowgate this week, Elaine Lemm enthuses about “poached baby globe artichoke, pickled pear with Blacksticks blue, chervil root puree and chilled chervil broth as the first dish. For seconds, pan-fried plaice, Scottish mussels, salsify and sea veg with burnt cream and smoked Jerusalem artichoke.”  For more: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/yorkshire-living/food-drink/pubs-restaurants-wine-recipes/restaurant-review-a-nordic-epic-saga-1-6912256

My Jerusalem artichoke have grown pretty well this year, but I don’t dig any until they have been subjected to a hard frost. As it has been positively tropical for late October here in Wales, I can’t see them being harvested for a while yet.

My advice when eating them is: a little goes a long way. Don’t overdo it. For a hint why, see my previous blog post on Jerusalem artichoke, which was entitled: ‘Why do Jerusalem artichoke make you fart?’ All is revealed at: http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/why-do-jerusalem-artichoke-make-you.html

I extracted information for that blog post from a book I wrote, with Prof. Stan Kays from the University of Georgia (USA), called ‘The Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)’. This is currently ranked 3,237,947 on the Amazon bestsellers list: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Biology-Chemistry-Jerusalem-Artichoke-Helianthus/dp/1420044958

Now, I know that can’t be good, because I get (or don’t get) the royalty cheques. However, I think the price the publishers charge for academic books like this might have a bearing.

Google books do a section for books where you can read selected pages (I don’t remember signing up for that one). Unfortunately, they have not selected any of the racy pages or even any of the interesting pages (the meat of the book concerns the Jerusalem artichoke’s USP – the inulin it lays down instead of starch): http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Biology_and_Chemistry_of_Jerusalem_Artic.html?id=XwZJN1HSajcC&redir_esc=y

Must sign off on this now, to deal with some 'trick-or-treaters'. Another Jerusalem artichoke news update coming soon, in a couple of years.

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