"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunroots in our Salad

One of the vegetables that we will probably never be found lacking in are sunroots, so we are always looking for new ways in which to use these prolific tubers that spread so readily throughout our gardens...in their designated areas of course. Of late we have been slicing them into thin strips and mixing with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil or any balsamic dressing we happen to have on hand...Mrs. H is always finding fantastic deals on balsamic dressing and hauls it home by the box full, it must be a black market thing...shame, shame. Anyway, they are then covered and left in the fridge overnight to marinate a bit which helps impart an extra nice flavor when sprinkled atop our daily veggie bowl.

Today's ↑ salad contains various kale, turnip greens, cabbage, grated carrot, squash, turnip (root), beet, topped with red cabbage sauerkraut, sunflower seeds, and a hint of Asiago cheese. Sunroots really add a distinct crunch to the mix, traditionally, when eaten raw, we have simply grated them into the salad but I much prefer this new method.

If you are so inclined, more of my thoughts on how we grow, care for, and store sunroots can be found in the links below.↓ Also, I have been asked why I choose to call them sunroots instead of Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes, topinambour, girasole, earth apple, or any of the other names they might go by. I do this because, as far as I know, they were first cultivated by Native American and Canadian Indians who called them "sun roots" long before these tuberous plants were whisked off to foreign lands where they underwent a variety of name changes.

Sunroots or Pirate's Booty
Our Ultimate Survival Food

Our Ever Evolving Sunroots (Jerusalem Artichokes)


Anonymous said...

I love my sunchokes dried, in salad & slaw, roasted and oven fried chips.

But couldn't find a good way to store them.

For me it is dig and eat, but by Dec1 the ground is frozen solid so no more eating until March.

Mr. H. said...

Anonymous - I have never tried drying them but will have to do so, what a great idea.

Our ground is also often frozen solid by mid December too. We take damp garden soil and layer our some of our sunchokes in totes in between layers of this soil. The totes are then covered and stored in our basement/root cellar at around 35 - 40°and will usually stay in good condition until early spring this way. Smaller amounts could also be put in bags mixed with a little soil and be kept in the crisper of one's refrigerator for an extended period as well. Enjoy those sunchokes.:)

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Sunroots do have many exotic names. How tall does sunroot grow? If I can find some roots I would like to grow them in autumn.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Mr. H. I've never had them,but they look interesting.
Maybe this spring I'll give them a try.Ginny

6512 and growing said...

I love your winter salad.

meemsnyc said...

I've never tried these before. I must get my hands on some!

Scarecrow said...

Hi Mr H
Some great ideas there for a plant that is threatening to take over my garden!!!

I am getting a early start with my New Year wishes.
I hope 2011 will be a productive year in both your garden and your life.
I trust the weather will behave itself for you and not present too many (more??) extremes!!

All the best

Anonymous said...

Your salad is looking very delicious with all the colors!

Sunroots are not very popular around here, I even had to search to find a Croatian word for it. and while I was searching, I found old recipe for making jam with it: cut the roots in small pieces, cook it in some water and juice from one lemon until it becomes thick, around 1 hour. The longer you cook it, it will be sweeter. Sounds easy.

Heiko said...

girasole what also be too confusing as that means sunflower in Italian. And of course they are not at all related to real artichokes. So sounds good to me. There are far too many misnomers in the botanical world, like autumn olives... or this one one zucchini: the word in Italian is plural, singular would be zucchino.

Buttons Thoughts said...

Mr. H That looks so delicious I would rather use the traditional name sun roots. We should remember our past and that is a good way to do that. I have never tried this sun root before I will have to. I must be missing out on something wonderful.As always very informative post. Way to go Mrs. H. I love that dressing also.

Mr. H. said...

Malay-Kadazan girl - Ours average around 8-10 feet tall but some are in the 12-15 foot range.

Ginny - You might like them, they can even be pickled and canned. We prefer them fresh though.

6512 and Growing - Thanks, we eat this always evolving salad every day, often twice a day, and never seem to tire of it.

Meemsnyc - They are very easy (too easy) to grow and can be eaten in any number of ways.

Scarecrow - They do tend to spread don't they, we are very diligent in keeping them under control but even so miss a few here and there. Don't you wish all our veggies did so well.:)

Vrtlarica - I like the idea of using them as a jam...very interesting. I will have to look into this.

Heiko - It does get confusing. Zucchino is one and zucchini is more than one...I like that.:) I wish that we had a zucchino to add to our salad.

Buttons - I agree, and because it is one of the few vegetables that is native to our countries we should be proud of its origins. Yes, Mrs. H is always looking for a good deal...I am sometimes afraid to ask where she comes up with all these bargains.:)

Ayak said...

Ah I've never heard them called sunroots..thanks for the info!

That looks like a really delicious salad!

el said...

Ugh, I can't stand the things. Actually, that's not true: they just do not like me!!

I guess some people have a hard time digesting them...I certainly am one, even though I generally have a cast-iron constitution.

Granted, I have never eaten them straight out of the earth, so...maybe something happens to them in storage that just doesn't agree with me.

But for everyone else, hey, they're a rapidly-spreading source of good food. Can't argue with that.

Elizabeth said...

Your salad is beautiful!! I'd eat everything but the cheese of course.
Do the sun roots taste like Jicama??
Peace & Raw Health,

You Can Call Me Jane said...

Fascinating (once again!). Your salad looks amazing. Man, I miss fresh salads. Each year we tell ourselves we MUST attempt what Mr. and Mrs. H pull off (covering and storing greens, etc., in your basement), but each fall comes with so much relief that the harvest is mostly over that we get all lazy, forgetting how much we'll miss the salads. One of these years, we're going to do it. Keep inspiring us!

Carolemc said...

I really must give them another try! Last time I had them they gave me heartburn.

I must say I'm very inspired by your big bowl of salad though - it looks delicious. Certainly need inspiring in that direction, after overeating chocolates, cake and biscuits over the holiday!
Happy New Year by the way.

sylvie in Rappahannock said...

and since the binomial name is Helianthus tuberosus i.e. "sunflower root" or " rooted sunflower" sunropot is an eminently logical name... We have had a few days of cold weather here and not a little thaw: time to dig some up!

Faith said...

Mmm. Sounds delicious. Anything julienned is delicious.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

that is a beautiful salad! and I found "10 acres enough" on line at:

now.. where is your escape from corporate story?

Ferris Jay said...

What a lovely name 'sunroots'.
I've only ever known them as Jerusalem artichokes.
They have quite a reputation over here for inciting gaseous eruptions.

I wonder if that is reduced if they are raw. I'd only heard of people roasting them.

Have to admit I've never tried eating them .. must give them a go in 2011.

They look lovely julienne style in your salad.

LynnS said...

I am hoping that by tomorrow, I'll get to dig mine up!! Three days above freezing and the ground may thaw! ;-)

I do like the Native name 'sunroot' and will try to remember to use that name. Thanks for sharing that, it's important to honor tradition too.

Speaking of Zucchini/Zucchino, we ate our last stored Zucchino 2 weeks ago! It was wrapped in newsprint in the veggie crisper in the fridge. Gonna try more of that next year!

Angie's Recipes said...

That's a very delicious and healthy mixed salad. I am not sure I have seen sunroots here...sound so good.
Happy New Year!

Mr. H. said...

Ayak - It was a good salad and the mainstay of our diet. I think our sunroots are called yerelmasi (earth apple) in Turkey....I think.

El - It does not seem to make much difference if they have been in storage or fresh from the ground they are hard for some people to digest. We have found that if we eat smaller amounts regularly there is no issue but if we only have them occasionally or in large amounts then we also have some problems digesting them. They are every bit as productive as a potato so it really is unfortunate that they do cause gastric distress.

During World War ll, sunroots were one of the few vegetables available (in France I believe) so apparently they can be used as a valuable food source if necessary. That said, I think I read that the French hated this vegetable by the time the war was over.:)

Elizabeth - I have never eaten jicama but can tell you that these sunroots have a slightly sweet nutty flavor and a crunchy texture no doubt similar to jicama.

Thy Hand - We will keep working on you.:) It really is nice to eat fresh produce in the middle of winter, especially salad green straight out of the garden (or basement)...lots of snow shoveling to get at the ones outside though.

Carolemc - We had way too many bread products as well. Time to whip ourselves back into shape and stick with the veggies.:)

Sylvie - Enjoy those sunroots, they always taste better after a cold spell. We are growing a red variety this year that I am excited about but we left all of those ones in the ground so I too might venture out for a few samples if I can manage to find them under all our snow.

Faith - I have to agree, just about anything julienned tastes great, especially in a salad.

Ohiofarmgirl - Thanks for the link, I am really looking forward to reading this. As for the horrors of 9-5, I will probably post about it one of these days...it's so darn depressing but certainly was a means to an end.

Ferris Jay - From wikipedia - “The inulin is not well digested by some people, leading in some cases to flatulence and gastric pain. Gerard’s Herbal, printed in 1621, quotes the English planter John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes: 'which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.’”

This only affects some people and if eaten regularly and in small amounts we have found that there is no such issue at all...and they really do taste quite good. You will have to try them one of these days...but just a taste at first.:)

Lynn - Just remember to eat a small amount of them at first. As noted above some people may have gastric issues due to the inulin contained in the root. Salsify, scorzonera, and chicory root are they same way...but we have never had any issues with these roots unless we eat too much.

Wow, you still have a zucchino, that is a neat trick and one that I will have to try next year. I still have a couple tomatoes left but we ran out of zucchini over a month ago.

Angie - Happy New Year to you too. I can assure you that sunroots are a culinary delight if prepared properly and eaten in small amounts.:)

Matron said...

I had no idea they were known as sun roots! but that makes perfect sense being related to sunflowers! I find even cooked, they produce enormous quantities of...er..gas. Enough to power a car I should think. The effects of eating them raw like that in salad must be unthinkable!

Kevin Kossowan said...

I grew these for the first time this past year, and am now a big fan - I enjoy them in salads as you used them, and they're SO prolific!!

Mrs. Mac said...

your salad is wonderful looking and I'm sure was delicious as well. we are still enjoying our sunchokes and will have to remember to save some for planting in the spring.

Sense of Home Kitchen said...

Balsamic vinegar and olive oil is my favorite dressing. I know it is not local, but neither is coffee, chocolate, and citrus, some things I allow guilt free.

I like the explanation of why you call them sunroots, that really makes sense.


amy said...

I feel like an alien, why have I never seen that vegetable before? At first I thought you had fries on your salad...haha

Have a happy new year! Thanks for introducing me to this magical sunroot! :P

JoyceP said...

Hi, Mr. H -- I have to ask about your red sauerkraut. I was going to try making some myself this year but chickened out because I didn't think anyone here would eat it but me. Do you think it tastes different from regular green cabbage kraut?

Best Wishes and a Happy New Year to you and Mrs. H!

LynnS said...

Mike, If I have kefir and other foods with inulin, wouldn't I be accustomed to sunroots? I have eaten them before but it's been a while. Kefir, that's a daily drink for me, so would I still need to slowly 'adjust' myself for them?

By the way, the shovel went 'clink' when I tried to dig this morning. Tomorrow Mr. BigGuy will attempt to dig them out. Why do I worry that he'll get the Bobcat out....?

Hope you and the lady have a wonderful New Years Eve!! Talk to you in the new year!!

kitsapFG said...

By any name, that is one vegetable that does not agree with my stomach so we do not grow them! I love your salad though - such a great combination of good things and so visually appealing. I bet it tastes wonderful too.

Veggie PAK said...

That's a mighty tasty-looking salad!

Mr. H. said...

Matron - Ah but that we could harness the power of sunroots.:) Actually, I have read that the sugars from one acre of sunchokes can produce 500 gallons of ethanol.

Kevin - We have tried cooking them numerous ways...mashed, fried, and baked. That said, we have found that they are just so darn good in their raw unadulterated state that that is the way we will no doubt use them the most. We made our 2 week supply of homemade dogfood today, 50% meat and 50% veggies, and I added a couple sunchokes to that mix as well. A very versatile vegetable.

Mrs. Mac - I'm so happy that you are enjoying them...and if you mess up and use too many just ask us for some more.:)

Brenda - Balsamic is such a nice dressing and can be used in so many ways. It is definately one of the condiments that we also splurge a bit on.:)

Amy - I'm happy that I could introduce you to sunroots and hope you have the opportunity to try them some day soon. Happy New Year to you too.:)

Joyce - Honestly, I like the red cabbage saurekraut better than the regular. Ours seems to have a slightly sweeter flavor and crunchier texture. I think you might just like it too...a lot.:) Happy New Year.

Lynn - It seems as though some peoples digestive system is much more sensative to inulin than others. Speaking of adapting to certain foods, I recently read a great book by Carol Deppe called "The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times". In her book she observes that if legumes like beans are eaten regularly they do not bother her at all but if she only eats them occasionaly then there are digestive issues. That has been our experience with sunroots. I will be very curious to learn what you think of them.
Hope you had a great holiday season and are looking forward to a new 2011 as much as we are.:)

Laura - It does taste good, with or without the sunroots. We sometimes add cooked potatoes, cooked, beets, eggs, berries & fruit, or any number of things to mix it up a bit and never tire of this meal in its many nutritious forms.

Veggie PAK - Thanks, it was good and we are having another one for dinner tonight with some soup and bread...can't wait.:)

LynnS said...

Mike, The sunroots are completely frozen under the frozen tundra!! We can't dig anything. I need to check our temperature records and see how many days have been below freezing this Winter. lol

At this point, I suppose I will dig some in the Spring but leave the bed for the 2011 harvest.

I can attest to the fussy-gut syndrome. The last time I had "fast food" was because a girlfriend begged me to try some type of chicken tenders (fried with a crust). Well, those "fast food" things went fast-through-me. I guess I wasn't used to that food. (And don't want to be!!)


Mr. H. said...

Lynn - The one nice thing about our soil in a normal winter is that it does not freeze too deep because of all the snow...last year it really froze hard though without any snow to speak of and stayed that way for quite some time.

You will have to go really easy with those sunroots...and remember, if all else fails chickens and goats love them.:)

Fast food make me sick too.:) Twice in my life, during the the same year at that, I have gotten very ill from eating out...no more for me.

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