One online article I read said that they were ready for harvesting when the leaves began to die. I found myself willing them to wilt but they just kept on growing – and there's only so much waiting that a girl can take.
The time had surely come to start digging.
I chose one of the taller plants and set to work with a spade. From that one tuber, planted in the Spring, I unearthed 10 new ones, and that is by no means exceptional. A Wikipedia article states: Each root can make an additional 75 to as many as 200 tubers during a year. For this reason, it is important to resist the gardener's natural urge to move Jerusalem Artichokes to a different part of the garden every year, rotating them along with all the other vegetables. The same Wikipedia article has this warning: Because even a small piece of tuber will grow if left in the ground the plant can ruin gardens by smothering or overshadowing nearby plants and can take over huge areas. Thankfully, our artichokes are in a small area of the garden that's bounded by concrete paths, so hopefully they'll stay where they're wanted.
So having picked them, what next? There are some nice-looking recipes for soup and purée but we decided to make a gratin. For a while now I've been thinking of opening a category on this blog for Angie's Recipes... so off we go.
1. Put a heaped deserts spoon full of plain flour in a bowl and add milk to make a thick paste.
3. Roughly peel the artichokes and place a few in an oven dish. Pour in some of the Elmlea mixture, then another layer of artichokes and more Elmlea. Keep adding layers until everything's in the dish, then top off with grated cheese. Parmesan would probably be perfect. I use Grana Padano from Tesco and honestly can't tell the difference. And yes, I did say that this recipe was diet buster!
4. Place in the oven at about 220°C for 20 minutes or so.
5. Eat your fill, but do remember that Jerusalem Artichokes have something in common with baked beans. That's right... they may make you fart!
Artichoke flowers are so romantic!