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Jerusalem artichokes good for winter salads and soups

My husband was the first to discover that dried sunchokes are delicious to crunch on as you might potato chips. Actually, they were the result of an experiment as we were unable to find any instructions for drying them.

Until late last year our family had always enjoyed sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, and carrots directly from our Oregon garden during most of the winter months.

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But last December, when we moved to a new home in West Virginia, I decided to dry them to produce a lightweight, easily moved product.

The system we developed included soaking the thickly sliced, cleaned chokes for 5 minutes in a bisulfite solution, which is available commercially. It prevents darkening due to oxidation.

After draining the slices we spread them on the 4 screen trays of our small home food dryer. The chokes, sliced to 1/16-inch on our manual slicer, dried to a crisp product within 8 hours.

The chokes reconstitute quickly to a texture close to fresh when soaked in water. We serve them on fresh vegetable plates, in a marinated salad with dill, or cooked in a creamed soup, a stir-fry dish, or a casserole.

A close Oregon friend first introduced us to his marinated sunchoke salad with its delightful dill accent.

Herbed Sunchokes 1 cup oil 1/2 cup cider vinegar 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1 tablespoon sugar 1 crushed clove of garlic 1/8 teaspoon each dill, thyme or marjoram, according to taste 2 cups thinly sliced sunchokes 1 cup thinly sliced onions Thinly sliced cucumber or green pepper, if desired

Mix first six ingredients well, add vegetables and marinate for at least two hours. May remain in refrigerator several days. At serving time lift vegetables from liquid and serve on greens.

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My parents started raising sunchokes in their Michigan garden with bulbs from ours in Oregon. Later my mother shared this soup recipe.

Creamed Carrot or Sunchoke Soup 2 cups carrots or sunchokes 1 large onion 1 cup water 1 cup chicken broth 1 cup milk

Cook vegetables in liquid until tender. Blend, about a cup at a time, in a blender until smooth. Return to pan, add milk, season to taste, and heat to piping hot. Serve with a s prinkling of Parmesan cheese. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

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