Even though I didn’t plant Jerusalem artichokes this year, even though I deprived last year’s survivors of water, and even though I pulled up many of the young plants over the summer, I still expect to harvest an enormous crop of tubers sometime in the next several months. The plant is tough.
But now I have a new way to use bucketloads of tubers. I developed this method last spring, after wondering whether turning the tubers into chips might relieve them of some of their windiness.
For the first trial batch, I sliced the tubers thin and soaked them for a half-hour in water with salt and lemon juice stirred in. This soaking, I hoped, would both prevent browning and give the chips extra savor. Then I dried the slices in the dehydrator until they turned leathery.
The chips turned out pale and uninteresting. So I baked them in the oven at 200 degrees F. until they were golden brown. Now, to my delight, they were sweet and crisp.
But I couldn’t taste the salt. Also, I concluded that the lemon juice had been unnecessary, since sliced Jerusalem artichokes seem uninclined to brown with exposure to air. So for the next batch I soaked the slices for an hour in a brine made of ¼ cup pickling salt to 1 quart water. I skipped the dehydration step; instead, I put the slices straight into the convection oven.
The second batch turned out as good as the first, with a bit of saltiness added.
I imagined that they would have been just as good with no salt at all. Besides, keeping the chips salt-free might discourage overconsumption—and overconsumption would be risky if the drying and baking failed to overcome the vegetable’s gassiness.
Here is my recipe. You decide about the salt.
Jerusalem artichoke tubers
Vegetable oil (optional)
Break the tubers apart at the nodes, scrub the tubers, and slice them thin with a mandoline. If you’d like your chips a little salty, soak the slices for at least an hour in a brine made of ¼ cup pickling salt to 1 quart water.
Drain the slices well, and spread them in a single layer on wire racks set over baking pans. If you have no wire racks that the slices won’t fall through, spread them directly on the baking pans, but expect the pieces to stick a little. To prevent this, you might oil the pan or even toss the slices with a little olive oil or other vegetable oil.
Put the pans into a convection oven heated to 200 degrees F. If you don’t have a convection oven, use a regular oven heated to 225 to 250 degrees F. Bake the slices for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hour, rotating the pans at least once, until the chips are almost crisp. Don’t cook them so long that they turn dark brown, or they will be bitter, just like brown potato chips.
Turn the chips out to cool. As they cool they will grow crisper. When they are cool, store them in airtight containers.
I tested the chips on people at an afternoon political meeting. Everybody seemed to like them, and none could guess what they were made of. Two people were gracious enough to take home small bagfuls, eat the chips all at a sitting, and report the results.
One of them told me that “right around 10 p.m. it hit. They weren’t particularly odorous or loud, just little bubbly poots all night, and that was pretty much the end of it. “
The other declared, “If I knowingly eat this food again I will plan on working around loud machinery, or going on a hike by myself.
“Bottom line, they taste good.”