These are sun chokes (some times referred to as Jerusalem artichokes or earth apples) and have come from the Studiobeerhorst micro urban farm here on Fuller Street in downtown Grand Rapids. These particular beauties ended up becoming a salad with fresh tarragon, lettuce and feta cheese which was served along side venison steak with gravy and sauerkraut for lunch yesterday.
Sun chokes were first cultivated by the native Americans through out North America long before the Europeans arrived. They are in the daisy family and look a lot like a sunflower. They bloom right at the very end of fall when most other flowers are all finished up. You have to be careful where you grow them because they can quickly take over the garden. We have been growing them for the last few years and have come to enjoy their sweet nutty flavor on the table.
Wikipedi lets us know that the sun choke was titled 'best soup vegetable' in the 2002 Nice festival for the heritage of the French cuisine and it is largely used in Germany to make a spirit called Topinambur. Apparently sun chokes have a high fructose content which works well for fermentation. Find yourself some sun chokes and give them a try and let us know what you think along with your favorite recipe.