Edible sunchokes – other than the roots

I was intrigued the other day with Heather’s (readers might recognize her comments under Wooddogs3) experiment with young sunflower stems. Check it out here.

I wondered how the annual Helianthus annuus (sunflower) would compare to the perennial H. tuberosus (sunchokes)?

I had the green light for blanched sunchoke tops several years ago from the ever experimenting Radix. See his post here. I have yet to remember to blanch my ‘chokes, so never followed through on this.

Per the approval of my exceedingly picky food forest rabbit, I have guessed for a while that the green tops must be tasty. So I decided to try some for myself following Heather’s method for sunflower.

My hugelkulture, mentioned in “Roots as of now,” is overwhelmed with the stuff anymore (“Clearwater” variety. Runs like mad) making it easy to snap off a handful. They’re about a foot tall now.


Accept for the very tips, I removed the leaves, which rabbit enjoyed for her lunch, and the tendon-like strings near the bottoms by peeling off the skin. The upper half didn’t have any strings I could find.


It was a bit tedious, and took me around 15 minutes for what’s pictured.

Without further processing I threw them into a hot skillet of butter and avacado oil (no particular reason for this oil. I like to mix butter and oil for saute, and avacado is what I had around) tipping the pan one way and another to cover the stems in hot oil until soft and crisp.


They tasted good. A mild bitterness, which to me is more than a stand-alone warrants, but good as an ingredient.

Most surprisingly, the leaf tips I left on were the most mild part -crunchy, and quite pleasant. Hardly any fuzziness as I had expected.

I chopped these up and mixed them with some lambsquarter shoots cooked the same way.


You’ll notice I didn’t mention any flavoring for these greens. None were added. I mixed up a ginger-sesame salad dressing, drizzled this over the top with a sprinkling of goji berries and called it good.

It was very good. The slight bitterness of the sunchokes became a nutty richness when combined with the lambsquarter. There was one bite where I realized I was munching on a sunchoke leaf, but that was due to a delightful crispness.

Thanks for the inspiration Heather!

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5 thoughts on “Edible sunchokes – other than the roots”

  1. Fascinating! I banished Jerusalem artichokes a few years ago because of the invasion issue and because my husband dislikes the roots a fair amount. But I may replant them just to try the shoots. I was especially interested by your remark about the mild bitterness becoming a nutty richness when combined with Lambsquarters. I am always interested by how much my cooked greens mixtures fall off in taste quality if I don’t include any bitter greens. Too much doesn’t work for most people, but none is almost as bad. When I think of how bitter some nuts can be before they ripen, but how delicious they are when ripe, I wonder if some single flavor component incorporates both the nutty flavor and the bitterness.
    I am increasingly taken by how good some otherwise undistinguished leaves can taste when pan-fried until they gain a bit of crispness. I hear that even stinging nettles leaves can be fried into a very tasty chip, although I have not yet tried it myself. If not cooked sufficiently, it would have potential to be the ultimate texture food 😉
    Thanks for the mention, and for this wonderful post! Your avid curiosity always comes through in your posts.

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  2. I think the roots are delicious. Despite careful preparation, I have yet to get by without a bit of gastointestinal distress.

    I can certainly relate to the running issue. “Supercluster,” sold by Oikos, is supposed to resist running. I of course couldn’t resist getting that, but haven’t had it long enough to say if it actually doesn’t run.

    They have many others though, which you can view here: https://oikostreecrops.com/products/perennial-vegetables/sunchokes/

    I have found in feeding my rabbit, that its strength is in its tops. With everyday harvest, I have actually weakened some patches to the point they don’t come back the next year. Slow and small solutions.

    That is interesting your association of nutty and bitter flavor. Thanks for mentioning it. If you come across anymore on that I’d love to hear about it. I’ll have to look into it myself too. That whole area of how the body detects taste is fascinating to me.

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  3. I am interested by the idea of controlling the tops to weaken the invasive spread. I will get a few and try this, to see if my goat will eat the tops. She is amazingly fussy and will only eat certain parts of certain plants. Of all the goats in the world, I got the finicky one.

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  4. In addition, I visited the Oikos website, which I had somehow missed up to this point, and even though they are sold out of a lot of things, I ended up placing an order totaling more money than I actually own. Gee, thanks😉

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  5. Uh, you’re welcome? I guess we can look forward to the cool plants at least.

    I’ve blown a lot of money there myself. In the early food forest years I would get back from a several hour harp gig with a couple hundred bucks and blow it that same day.

    Not that I’m done aquiring plants. People ask why I’m still not driving at 21 and I always reply “I can’t afford it! I spend all my money on plants!”

    So I can relate.

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