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Jerusalem artichoke is by far one of the simplest vegetables to grow as well as being a very productive plant: why it is so little widespread in vegetable gardens remains a mystery. We have already seen how Jerusalem artichokes are grown in a dedicated article, I will now give some advice on harvesting this tuber and how to best preserve it.
When the time comes when you see the fruits of all the cultivation work it is always nice, in the case of Jerusalem artichoke it will be a particular satisfaction: its monumental plants, which easily exceed three meters in height, are real mines of vegetables and under each stem there are many tubers. The rich harvest must be done well, otherwise this plant will infest the garden bed also the following year.
When to harvest Jerusalem artichokes
The harvest of the tubers takes place in autumn, usually starting from October, after the flowering of the plant, until the whole month of December. The taller the shrub, and above all the greater the diameter of its stem, the more Jerusalem artichoke we can expect to find underground. The size of the tuber depends a lot on the type of soil and how much was worked before planting and during cultivation.
Harvesting can also be done in a gradual manner, removing the tubers as needed, the Jerusalem artichokes in the ground can resist without problems during the winter, even in case of frosts they keep well.
How tubers are harvested
The Jerusalem artichoke harvest is carried out by digging the tubers from the ground under the plant, with a digging fork or with a hoe. It is better to go and search deeply, going to the bottom a minimum of 10 centimeters, I recommend searching up to 25 cm, in order to take all the tubers present and avoid finding new seedlings the following year.
After harvesting, all the earth attached to the tuber must be removed, especially if it is collected on a humid day or with wet soil, which is common in the autumn months. The tubers are dried by leaving them in the air for one or two days and then all the soil is removed without using water but only by rubbing, and then placed in a box.
How to preserve Jerusalem artichoke
While the Jerusalem artichoke plant also grows well on the banks of ditches, near streams and in the presence of stagnations, once harvested the tubers are very afraid of humidity. They must be kept clean, they must be kept in a cool, humid and dry place. To make this vegetable last longer you can keep it in crates filled with dry sand.
It is much easier to keep potatoes that keep better, Jerusalem artichoke tends to "soften" over time, losing water and shriveling. For this reason it may be worthwhile to do a staggered harvest, removing the tubers from the ground as you plan to use them in the kitchen.
Cooking Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichoke has a refined taste, reminiscent of that of artichokes, with the background bitterness softened by the typical mellowness of tubers. The boring part of its culinary use is cleaning it - it's awkward to peel because it's very irregular in shape. However, the peel is fine and not very annoying, so you can clean it well, scrubbing vigorously with a steel wool or a vegetable brush, and then cook it directly with peel.
It is cooked exactly like the potato: it can be sautéed, boiled, baked, steamed, fried. Its flour is very good to use in bread making or it can be added to soups and soups to give flavor and thicken. Making Jerusalem artichoke flour is simple, just use a dryer and then blend the dry vegetable.
The infesting nature of the tuber
Among the garden plants that of Jerusalem artichoke is one of the most infesting. Collecting all the Jerusalem artichoke tubers is particularly important if you don't want to continue growing this tuber on the same plot. The plant also produces tubers in depth and some are very small, very often they remain in the ground and the plants develop the following year. For this reason, after cultivating this vegetable, I recommend leaving the soil to rest for a year, so that you can go and remove any plant that forms, digging it out complete with tuber.