Sweet & Spicy Pickled Sunchokes- Putting Up with ErinSweet & Spicy Pickled Sunchokes- Putting Up with Erin

Plain and simple, sunchokes, previously referred to as “Jerusalem artichokes”, make you fart. That being said, I believe that this really only pertains to consumption of raw sunchokes. The culprit? Inulin- a complex fructose-based carbohydrate that is not digestible by humans. According to the widely trusted Wikipedia (rolls eyes), most hydrolases (enzymes) can be inactivated at 200°F. As water-bath canning raises internal jar temperatures to 212°F, paired with the added acidity from vinegar, perhaps pickling can help alleviate some of the “wind producing” symptoms of sunchokes. Then again, perhaps not…

The week before last I met Jordan the quirky head farmer at Two Toad Farm (his business card is a pack of tobacco seeds- how cool is that!?). While attempting to recruit him as a speaker for the next Seacoast Food Swap, I was overly distracted by his small display of sunchokes… cough… “that’s what she said”. A couple months ago Keith experimented with some baked sunchoke chips; they turned out really good, especially the slightly burnt and crispy ones. I figured sweet, spicy, and nutty pickled sunchoke chips would be equally as tasty. I found and slightly modified this recipe from the Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog. Enjoy these sweet & spicy pickled sunchokes straight out of the jar, with a mix of other pickles, or as a side to any Middle Eastern dish/stew.

Sweet & Spicy Pickled Sunchokes- Putting Up with Erin

Sweet & Spicy Pickled Sunchokes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sunchokes (washed and sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings)
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp red chile flakes
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water (plus 1 quart for the brine)
  • juice from 2 lemons (~1/2 cup)

Instructions

  1. In a large-sized bowl, combine sunchokes, salt, lemon juice, turmeric, and enough water to cover. Stir well to dissolve salt. Let stand for 8-12 hours.
  2. Rinse and drain sunchokes. Pack into jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.
  3. In a large-sized, non-ionized pot combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to just a boil. Remove from heat. Strain vinegar liquid using a fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth) retaining liquid and solid ingredients. Remove bay leaves & cloves.
  4. Add half of a bay leaf and 1 tsp of unstrained (solid) ingredients to each pint jar. Ladle vinegar liquid over jar ingredients leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and add more liquid if displaced.
  5. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings (finger tight), and then process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Remove jars from canner and let stand on a folded towel for 8-12 hours.
  6. Store jars in a cool, dry place for at least 1 week before consuming. Shelf stable for up to 1 year.


6 responses to Sweet & Spicy Pickled Sunchokes

  1. I meant to plant sunchokes this year but didn’t manage to do so. If I do next year, this recipe is the first I’ll try.

    I agree that the acidity of this recipe is likely to be a major factor (I think the primary factor) in reducing the inulin content of the sunchokes (assuming it does), since the covalent linkages between the single sugars that make up the inulin are vulnerable to hydrolysis. Most hydrolyze-able bonds I can think of are more so in the presence of acid, and raising the heat increases the chances of reactions happening.

    Where I don’t follow your reasoning is the part about hydrolases being vulnerable to heat. That’s true, because most enzymes (whether composed of protein, RNA, or both) are vulnerable to heat because their shapes depend on many weak non-covalent interactions, and the energy from heat is more than sufficient to disrupt them. However, inulin isn’t an enzyme – in fact, long storage of sunchokes leads to breaking down of some of their inulin to fructose because the sunchokes’ own enzymes are allowed to remain active. Brief heating of young sunchokes might actually preserve inulin by messing up the shapes of those enzymes. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; inulin is an prebiotic, promoting the growth of good bacteria in your colon.)

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