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How to Harvest and Store Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokeHarvest Jerusalem artichokes when they are big enough to eat, about 130 days after planting. Tubers of Jerusalem artichokes—also called sunchokes–can be left in the ground past several frosts. They will be sweeter than those lifted sooner.

When to Harvest Jerusalem Artichokes

Harvest Jerusalem artichoke tubers from late summer onward about 13o days after planting.

Where the ground freezes, lift the entire crop before the soil freezes. Where temperatures are mild in winter, leave tubers in the ground and lift them as needed for use.

Tubers left in the garden until spring should be taken up before the weather warms otherwise they will send out new shoots, spread, and become uncontrollable and weedy.

When frost comes, the tops of sunchokes will begin to die back. Cut down the stems and leafy tops before you harvest. Unlike potato vines which die back as tubers mature, sunchoke plants do not die back until hit by a freeze.

How to Harvest Jerusalem Artichokes

  • Use a spading fork to loosen the soil and lift the tubers. Start loosening the soil in a 24 inch (61 cm) circle around the stems; then work your way inward loosening the soil and lifting the tubers. Harvest when the soil is dry.
  • Sunchoke tubers look like very knobby small light brown potatoes. They will be strongly attached and intertwined with the roots and soil; you will have to work to separate the tubers from roots and stems.
  • Harvest Jerusalem artichokes with gentle care—the skins are thin and can be easily cut or bruised. Tubers that are cut or bruised will not store well. Don’t lift more than you need at one time unless you have to; tubers are susceptible to rapid moisture loss and do not keep well unless put into cold storage right away.
  • At harvest, remove the tops leaving about ½ inch of the crown then put tubers into storage within 3 or 4 hours.
Sunchoke tubers
Jerusalem artichoke tubers store best at about 32°F.

How to Store Jerusalem Artichokes

  • Jerusalem artichoke tubers store best at about 32°F (0°C) to 34°F and 85 to 95 percent relative humidity.  Place them in plastic bags or in a container of damp sand in a cold root cellar or basement. At 32°F and high humidity, tubers will store for 2 to 5 months.
  • Sunchokes stored in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag will keep for about 10 days.
  • Tubers of the Jerusalem artichoke do not store as well as potatoes. Do not store tubes where they will dry and shrivel.
  • Save a few good tubers for replanting next season.

More tips at How to Grow Sunchoke.

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25 Comments

  1. These things take over your garden! What a nightmare – be careful.
    We live in Virginia and planted them in a bed. They went crazy, multiplying beyond belief. I will never get them out of my garden bed. I am constantly digging them up (when the shoots show in Spring). But no amount of digging gets them all!

    • When digging sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) tubers it is important to begin digging at the edge of the plant bed and work your way into the buried tubers. Use a garden fork to avoid cutting tubers in half. Tubers that are cut or split in half and left behind will grow on next season.

    • U can control how far they spread by surrounding them with plastic or wood barrier buried 2 ft or just plant in a big pot – dig 2 ft away from the last plant and U’ll get them all or cover an area around the plant with plastic where U don’t want them to grow and it should stop spreading.

      • I was not able to contain them. No idea how they spread to the far corners of my garden that they have but the kids now enjoy hunting them and I have learned to live with them popping up everywhere. They do a good job of breaking up the soil lol

  2. The best way to grow sunchokes and NOT have them take over your garden is to plant them in plastic pots buried in the soil leaving an inch above ground level. Then when ready to harvest you can pull up the pots and spill them out on a tarp to separate out the tubers.

  3. I planted sunchokes 38 years ago soon after moving in – only one or two, as they were left over after a meal (after which I learned the hard way why they’re also called fartichokes!). Anyway, I ‘dug them ALL up’ and 38 years later, I am still digging them all up . . . tcha!

    • Sunchokes can be left in the garden through winter. If you want to lift them, allow them to dry in a shaded, cool place for a week or two then store the tubers in a cool shed or garage through the winter.

    • Use a cloth to brush off the soil and allow the tubers to cure in a warm, dark spot for 7 to 10 days before storing. Do not wash the tubers until you are ready to use them.

  4. .We ferment a lot of different kinds of vegetables and sometimes include a few sunchokes in the mix. Seems to temper the gassiness. I’m going to make a batch with only chokes to test my observation.

  5. I second the recommendation to plant sunchokes in pots. I planted my first batch in the garden, opposite my Maximillian sunflowers (same genus, but not edible). The gophers immediately devoured them (the Willamette Valley, Oregon is home to the Camas pocket gopher, the world’s largest at 8″ long). I planted the two surviving tubers in a large, 18″ diameter pot with loose potting soil (bark, compost, pumice)l, and they grow well, and are easy to harvest every winter. In two years the tubers filled the pot. The loose soil helps keep their shape more regular and is easier to clean off because there is no clay.

  6. I have planted them in large tubs or containers in late winter for spring sprouting. I have been in the habit of harvesting them all, washing and drying them and then free-flow freezing. However, though the bigger ones tend to roast well after freezing, the process seems unsatisfactory as they do not remain firm – ok for soups!
    I note suggests similar to storing Kumara [in New Zealand] or sweet potato anywhere else store well in a root shed, these don’t. I am going to try the vacuum sealed bags/and cooling them down to 2-3 degrees C and see how that makes out.
    Has anyone tried blanching them before freezing?
    Otherwise, they are back into the pot in moist sand, as someone above has suggested.

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