I recently had a bag of Jerusalem artichokes, which sadly got abandoned not once, but twice; I forgot I had them, and when I found them they were a bit rubbery and bendy instead of being firm and crisp. I decided to make soup from them, but having begun to make it, I got sidetracked or distracted and the pan was set aside and by the time I rediscovered it, the soup was beyond saving. I was quite cross with myself.
Jerusalem artichokes, in case you don’t know, are not artichokes at all, but a tuber related to sunflowers from which it is thought they got their name; nor does it come from Jerusalem – giresole is Italian for them, and English people on hearing it, turned it into ‘Jerusalem’… apparently.
They are not to everyone’s taste, but I have eaten them and liked them, so when I received this particular bag of them i was pleased. I had intended just to cook and eat them as a vegetable, and I remembered that they discolour quickly and need to be kept in acidulated water once peeled… I remembered that, but I forget that I had them. I also intended to serve them with a white sauce, I thought that would be nice – well, it might have been had I actually cooked them when they were fresh and crisp.
So, on discovering them, soft but still whole, I peeled them into acidulated water, I cooked them, and then decided I would make them into soup; I blended them, and sieved them… and then somehow forgot them, so when I rediscovered them there was a sheen of something not quite nice across the surface, a sort of mold, I thought.
I hate wasting anything, but my poor Jerusalem artichokes were beyond saving and they went into the recycling bin. They are a winter vegetable, so as we draw nearer spring I’m less likely to find any more… but if I do, then maybe I should follow the recipe in The National Mark Calendar of Cooking. The national mark was established in the late 1920’s to promote regulation and standards of food products, everything from dairy to meat to fruit and vegetables. Ambrose heath and Mrs D.D.Cottington taylor wrote a small recipe book with suggestions for using seasonal produce month by month; a small book but full of interest and beautifully written. h
Here is their suggestion for Jerusalem artichoke mould – better, much better than my Jerusalem artichoke mold a gill by the way is ¼ pint:
- 1 lb National Mark Jerusalem artichokes
- 2 National Mark eggs
- 1 gill cream
- tomato or cheese sauce
- salt and pepper
- (milk – not mentioned in recipe but need to cook the artichokes)
- (nutmeg – optional and also not mentioned in recipe)
- boil the artichokes in milk, mash well and pass them through a hair sieve
- add cream and two well-beaten eggs and season with salt, pepper and optional nutmeg
- pour into a well buttered mould and steam for an hour
- turn out and serve with white sauce (flavoured with grated cheese) or a tomato sauce poured over)