Bite: Pickled Sun
 Alibi V.18 No.9 • Feb 26-March 4, 2009 


Pickled Sun

The Jerusalem artichoke has absolutely nothing to do with the contested city home to various peoples of the book. It's actually an American original: a tuber that finds its roots from Nova Scotia to Georgia. First eaten by a European in 1605, the artichoke-tasting relative of the sunflower was sent back to the old country, where it enjoyed relative popularity until it got upstaged by the potato. The Italian word for sunflower, girasole, eventually morphed into Jerusalem, and we've all been confused ever since.

Whenever we start seeing these guys (also known as sunchokes) at the market we go nuts, which often results in overbuying. This recipe is a way to immediately deal with your self-control problems and a great introduction to pickling and preserving vegetables.

Pickled Sunchokes Part One: Brine

4 cups of water

1/3 cup of kosher salt

Juice of 3 lemons

1 pound sunchokes (pick the firmest ones you can), skin-on, washed and trimmed

1) In a large glass jar, combine the water, salt and lemon juice and stir until the salt has dissolved.

2) Slice the sunchokes about 1/2-inch thick. Immediately place the sliced sunchokes in the brine (if you let them sit, they oxidize and discolor). Cover the jar with plastic wrap and let sit somewhere cool for 24 hours.

Pickled Sunchokes Part Two: Marinade

1 teaspoon each: coriander seed, dill seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, whole black peppercorns and aleppo pepper

1 small piece of fresh turmeric, peeled (or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder)

4 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup Champagne vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1) Heat a large pot on high. Toast the dry spices (except sugar) for 3 to 5 minutes, until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop.

2) Add the turmeric, the liquids and the sugar. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from heat.

3) Drain and rinse your brined sunchokes in cold water. Jam them into a clean jar and carefully pour the marinade over the chokes, making sure you totally submerge the tubers in vinegar. Seal the jar and stick in the fridge.

4) Wait a week and see what time, brine and acid can do. Strain the leftover marinade for a vinaigrette base.