Friday, 22 March 2013

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES

The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable. Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relation to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke. The origin of the name relates to Italian settlers in the USA, who called the plant "girasole", the Italian word for sunflower, because of its resemblance to the garden sunflower. Over time, the name "girasole" may have been changed to Jerusalem, while the tuber vaguely resembles the artichoke in taste.

Here it is, growing in our garden and it is proudly displaying its flowers, which are yellow and produced in capitate flowerheads, 5–10 centimetres in diameter, with 10–20 ray florets. The tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 7.5–10 centimetres long and 3–5 centimetres thick, and vaguely resembling ginger root, with a crisp texture when raw. The "artichoke" contains about 10% protein, no oil, and a surprising lack of starch. However, it is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (76%), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Tubers that are stored for any length of time will digest its inulin into its component fructose.

Jerusalem artichokes have an underlying sweet taste because of the fructose, which is about one and a half times sweeter than sucrose. Jerusalem artichokes have also been promoted as a healthy choice for diabetics. The reason for this being the case is because fructose is better tolerated by people that are diabetic. It has also been reported as a folk remedy for diabetes. Temperature variances have been shown to affect the amount of inulin the Jerusalem artichoke can produce. When not in tropical regions, it has been shown to make less inulin than when it is in a warmer region.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
And also part of the Skywatch Friday meme.



13 comments:

  1. That was a really interesting post. I enjoy the Jerusalem artichoke as an alternative to potatoes but never realised the plant produced such beautiful sun flowers. That's what happens when you don't grow the veg and just buy it from the supermarket.

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  2. The yellow flowers are so pretty against the blue sky.

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  3. Interesting information, beautiful photos!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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  4. bright and cheerful flowers! they're a lovely addition to your garden.

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  5. Beautiful pictures! Like the yellow against the blue sky!

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  6. My favorite, Sunflowers! I love your photos, gorgeous!

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  7. Love how you captured the flowers against the beautiful sky. Nice post!

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  8. Beautiful pictures!!
    They grow in my garden too.

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  9. The flowers almost look like cosmos.

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