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How to Harvest and Store Jerusalem Artichokes — Sunchokes

Sunchokes at harvest
Jerusalem artichoke harvest store
Jerusalem artichokes just harvested

Harvest 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 touches of frost. 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 the first 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 the 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.
Jerusalem artichoke harvest store
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.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

Comments

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. .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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

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