Topinambur is also called Jerusalem artichoke or sunchoke and is botanically related to the sunflower. It originates in America but is cultivated now in Europe and all over the world as well. I know them since I ordered an organic veggie box that gets delivered once a week.
Now we grow them in our backyard by chance. If you want to have some in your garden too you should be aware of the fact that it is hard to get rid of them again ;-). Harvesting them in late autumn you will never find all of the roots and have more (in a little bit different areas) the next year. I don’t mind because I like them a lot. But you might want to be careful and use a root barrier if you plant them. Even a cut of piece of a root can result in a new plant in the next season.
The interesting parts for your kitchen are the roots. They are rich in inulin which is very important for your intestinal health. You can read more about the benefits in this article from MedicalNewsToday. Topinambur also contains significant amounts of Kalium, Iron and Vitamins. You can eat them raw in salads (check out this carrot apple salad), boil them or fry them like french fries. Raw they are really crunchy and have a sweet and nutlike taste, which I like very much.
The first year I made the mistake of harvesting all the Jerusalem artichokes in the fall and filling my refrigerator with them. I couldn’t eat them all before they spoiled. This year we are harvesting them when we need them. They stay fresh and I have more room in my fridge.
If you are not used to eating topinambur start with only small portions. Otherwise you might have some problems with gas. The good bacteria you need to break down the inulin must first be developed.