The Ultimate Guide to Sunchokes: A Survival Plant You Need to Know

Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes or sunroots, are a type of sunflower native to North America. These tubers are packed with nutrients and have a long history of being used as a survival plant during times of hunger. In this ultimate guide, we will explore the benefits of sunchokes, their nutritional value, how to grow and cook them, and how they can be used as a survival food.

Sunchokes Survival Plant

What are Sunchokes?

Sunchokes are a root vegetable that grows underground, similar to a potato. They are knobby and irregularly shaped, with a brown skin and white flesh. The flavor of sunchokes is nutty and slightly sweet, with a crunchy texture. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.


The History of Sunchokes as a Survival Food

During World War II, sunchokes were grown in victory gardens and used as a source of food for soldiers. They were also eaten during times of famine by Native American tribes, who referred to them as “sunroots.” In fact, sunchokes were one of the few crops that survived the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s.

According to a quote from Michael Pollan, an American author and journalist, “Jerusalem artichokes were grown in Europe during the Second World War to help people survive. They were a staple during that time, and they could be eaten in many different ways.”


The Nutritional Value of Sunchokes

Sunchokes are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. They are a good source of dietary fiber, containing both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber in sunchokes helps to lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels, while the insoluble fiber promotes healthy digestion and prevents constipation.

Sunchokes are also a good source of potassium, an important mineral that helps to regulate blood pressure and support heart health. A one-cup serving of sunchokes provides approximately 650 milligrams of potassium, which is more than a medium-sized banana.


In addition to fiber and potassium, sunchokes are also rich in iron, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. A one-cup serving of sunchokes contains approximately 3 milligrams of iron.

Sunchokes are also a good source of thiamin, a B-vitamin that helps to convert food into energy and maintain healthy nerve and muscle function. A one-cup serving of sunchokes contains approximately 0.2 milligrams of thiamin.

Furthermore, sunchokes contain a type of carbohydrate called inulin, which is a prebiotic that feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Inulin also has a low glycemic index, making it a good option for people with diabetes who need to manage their blood sugar levels.


Overall, sunchokes are a nutritious and versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. They are low in calories, high in fiber, and contain a range of vitamins and minerals that support overall health and well-being.



How to Grow Sunchokes

Sunchokes are an easy-to-grow plant that can thrive in a variety of climates. They prefer cool temperatures and moderate rainfall, but can tolerate heat and drought as well. The ideal temperature range for growing sunchokes is between 60-80°F (15-26°C), although they can withstand temperatures as low as 20°F (-7°C), and as high as 90°F (32°C).


In terms of soil, sunchokes prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They can grow in sandy, loamy, or clay soils, but prefer a slightly acidic pH range of 5.0-6.5. Before planting, it’s important to prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris, breaking up any clumps, and adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure.

Sunchokes are typically grown from tubers, which are the root-like structures that develop beneath the soil. The best time to plant sunchokes is in the spring, after the last frost has passed. The tubers should be planted about 4-6 inches deep and 12-18 inches apart, with the eyes facing up.


Once planted, sunchokes require minimal maintenance. They should be watered regularly, but not over-watered, as this can lead to root rot. It’s also important to weed around the plants regularly, as sunchokes do not compete well with other plants for nutrients.


Sunchokes can grow quite tall, up to 10 feet in some cases, and may require staking or trellising to prevent them from toppling over. They also have a tendency to spread quickly, so it’s important to plant them in an area with plenty of space.

Harvesting sunchokes typically occurs in the fall, after the first frost has killed off the leaves. The tubers can be dug up using a fork or shovel, and should be stored in a cool, dry place until ready to be eaten. Sunchokes can be eaten raw or cooked, and can be used in a variety of recipes.

Sunchokes Survival Plant

How to Cook Sunchokes

Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, can be cooked in a variety of ways. They have a slightly sweet, nutty flavour and a crispy texture when raw, but become soft and creamy when cooked. Here are some popular ways to cook sunchokes:


  1. Roasting: Roasting is a popular method of cooking sunchokes. Simply wash the sunchokes and slice them into thin rounds or chunks. Toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast in a preheated oven at 400°F for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and tender.

  2. Mashing: Sunchokes can be mashed like potatoes for a delicious side dish. Peel the sunchokes and chop them into small pieces. Boil them in salted water until tender, then drain and mash with butter, milk, and your favorite seasonings.

  3. Grilling: Sunchokes can be grilled for a unique and flavourful side dish. Cut the sunchokes into thick slices or chunks and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill on a preheated grill for 10-15 minutes, until charred and tender.

  4. Soup: Sunchokes can also be used to make a creamy and flavourful soup. Peel and chop the sunchokes, along with some onions and garlic. Saute the onions and garlic in a pot until soft, then add the sunchokes and enough chicken or vegetable broth to cover. Simmer until the sunchokes are tender, then puree the soup until smooth. Add cream or coconut milk for a richer soup.

  5. Chips: Sunchokes can be sliced thinly and fried or baked to make a delicious and crispy snack. Use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice the sunchokes into thin rounds. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan and fry the slices until golden brown and crispy. Alternatively, arrange the slices on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for 10-15 minutes, until crispy.

No matter how you choose to cook them, sunchokes are a versatile and delicious vegetable that can add flavour and nutrition to any meal. Experiment with different cooking methods and seasonings to find your favourite way to enjoy them.



Sunchokes as a Survival Food

Sunchokes, have a long history as a survival food. Native to North America, sunchokes were an important food source for indigenous peoples and early settlers. During times of famine and hardship, sunchokes provided a reliable source of nutrition that helped people survive.


One reason sunchokes were so valuable as a survival food is their high nutritional value. Sunchokes are a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, and thiamine. They are also low in calories and contain no fat or cholesterol. In fact, sunchokes have a higher nutritional value than many other root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots.

Another reason sunchokes are a great survival food is their versatility. They can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways, making them a valuable ingredient in soups, stews, and other dishes. They can also be dried and ground into a powder for long-term storage.


Sunchokes are also easy to grow, making them a valuable crop for homesteaders and survivalists. They are hardy plants that can grow in a variety of climates, from cold and dry to hot and humid. They require little maintenance and can be grown in poor soil conditions. Sunchokes are also a perennial crop, meaning they can be harvested year after year without replanting.



Sunchokes are a highly nutritious and versatile root vegetable that has been used as a survival food for centuries. They are easy to grow, easy to cook, and can be used in a variety of recipes. Whether you are a survivalist looking for a reliable food source or just looking to add some variety to your diet, sunchokes are definitely a plant you need to know.



  1. Are sunchokes easy to grow? 
Yes, sunchokes are relatively easy to grow and require minimal maintenance. They can tolerate a variety of climates and soil types, and once established, can grow quite vigorously.
2. What are some common pests and diseases that affect sunchokes?
Sunchokes are relatively pest and disease-resistant, but they can be susceptible to root rot if over-watered. They may also attract aphids, slugs, and snails, which can be controlled with insecticidal soap or other organic methods.
3. How should sunchokes be stored after harvesting?
Sunchokes should be stored in a cool, dry place, such as a root cellar or refrigerator. They can be stored for several months, but should be checked regularly for signs of mould or rot.
4. Can sunchokes be eaten raw?
Yes, sunchokes can be eaten raw and have a sweet, nutty flavour. They can be sliced thinly and used in salads, or eaten whole as a crunchy snack.
5. How can sunchokes be used in cooking?
Sunchokes are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. They can be roasted, sautéed, mashed, or pureed, and can be used in soups, stews, and casseroles. They can also be sliced thinly and used in place of potatoes in gratins or fritters.
6. Can sunchokes be grown in containers?
Yes, sunchokes can be grown in containers, although they may not produce as many tubers as plants grown in the ground. It’s important to choose a large container, at least 18 inches in diameter, and provide plenty of drainage holes.
7. Are sunchokes invasive?
Sunchokes can be invasive if not properly contained. They have a tendency to spread quickly and can take over a garden if not managed carefully. It’s important to plant them in an area with plenty of space and to remove any volunteer plants that pop up outside of the designated planting area.
8. How long does it take for sunchokes to mature?
Sunchokes typically take 100-120 days to mature from the time of planting. They can be harvested once the leaves have died back in the fall, after the first frost.
9. Are sunchokes a good source of nutrition?
Yes, sunchokes are a good source of nutrition, particularly in terms of dietary fiber and potassium. They are also low in calories and have a low glycemic index, making them a good option for people with diabetes.
10. Can sunchokes be used as a natural sweetener?
Yes, sunchokes contain a type of carbohydrate called inulin, which is a natural sweetener. Inulin is not absorbed by the body, so it does not raise blood sugar levels like other sweeteners such as sugar or honey. Inulin can be extracted from sunchokes and used as a sugar substitute in recipes.

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