I knew they had nothing to do with the traditional artichoke or Jerusalem but I did not know they were also part of the Daisy family. In my reading I discovered they are actually a tuber and also go by the names sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambur. They come from the sunflower.
So what to do with them? I love root vegetable of all kinds, especially roasted so I decided to peel and roast them. They peeled easily, although a few of them seemed a bit soft and sort of mushy so I tossed those, thinking they might be spoiled. The harder crunchy raw tubers tasted like a potato only sweeter and nuttier. I tossed them in olive oil and generously sprinkled with salt and pepper and tossed them in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
They were excellent! More importantly they passed Tina's taste test and her brother liked them as well. I didn't have too many of them and I am sure we all would have eaten more. They were indeed sweeter than a potato but similar in texture. They had caramelized in the oven which contributed to the sweetness.
Now here's the thing, I developed an unusual amount of flatulence shortly after dinner which lasted well into the evening and early hours of the morning. My belly bloated and was uncomfortable with gastric pain all night long. So I did a bit more reading this morning and learned that the Jerusalem Artichoke tubers store the carbohydrate inulin (not to be confused with insulin) instead of starch like most tubers. For this reason they are a source of fructose. The carbohydrates give them a tendency to become soft and mushy (probably a wise decision to toss my softer mushier tubers). The inulin is not well digested by some people, obviously I am one of them, and can lead to flatulence and gastric pain.
The great English planter John Goodyer wrote on the Jerusalem Artichoke in the Oxford Companion to Food "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 the men". Had I read this before indulging, I might not have. Will I eat them again, yes! They were worth the gas and pain. I would however make a disclaimer if I ever serve them to guests again. I hope Charlie and Tina didn't have too rough a night!