The Jerusalem artichoke is native to the great prairies of North America.

It was brought to France by Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century and was called artichaut du Canada (Canadian #artichoke) or poire de terre (earth pear). In 1613, completely by chance, it was given the name topinambour. This is because six Tupinamba Indians were presented at the Court of Louis XIII: the new tuber brought from the Americas and the Tupinamba were combined in peoples' minds.

As for the name Jerusalem artichoke, this comes from its flavor, which is reminiscent of the #artichoke, and a deformation of its Italian name girasole, so named because its flowers, like sunflowers, turn towards the sun.

The Jerusalem artichoke was doing very well before the arrival of the potato. The potato gradually eclipsed the Jerusalem #artichoke when it started to be widely consumed, and the latter was mainly used as cattle feed until the Second World War. At that moment, potatoes disappeared from the market (as they were requisitioned by the occupants) and the Jerusalem #artichoke made its comeback. The French were, however, eager to forget about it again as soon as they were able to regain access to their favorite tuber. And then, over the last ten years or so, the Jerusalem artichoke has once again made its way into French kitchens. 

The tubers should be very firm and their skin should not be wrinkly. If it is, it means that it has begun to dry out. It must not have any sprouts either or greenish tints. 

Jerusalem artichokes are sold fresh or frozen (washed, chopped, and blanched).

Jerusalem artichokes have thin skin and do not need to be peeled, which would in any case be difficult because of their bumps. They should be brushed thoroughly in water. They then need to be stored in acidulated water until ready to use, or they will turn black.

They can be cooked in water (starting from cold), steamed, baked, or sautéed in a pan or wok.

Jerusalem artichokes work well in soup, puree, and gratins, or as fries or chips. They can be served with meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish. They can be mixed with other seasonal vegetables in a casserole or tagine, and work well in spicy dishes.

Raw, they can be very finely grated into a salad.

Les topinambours se cuisent à l'eau (départ eau froide), à la vapeur, au four, sautés à la poêle ou au wok.

Jerusalem artichokes have thin skin and do not need to be peeled, which would in any case be difficult because of their bumps. They should be brushed thoroughly in water. They then need to be stored in acidulated water until ready to use, or they will turn black.

They can be cooked in water (starting from cold), steamed, baked, or sautéed in a pan or wok.

Jerusalem artichokes work well in soup, puree, and gratins, or as fries or chips. They can be served with meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish. They can be mixed with other seasonal vegetables in a casserole or tagine, and work well in spicy dishes.

Raw, they can be very finely grated into a salad.

Jerusalem artichokes will keep for 1–2 weeks in the refrigerator or cold room, well wrapped up to prevent them from drying out. 

A starchy tuber, the Jerusalem artichokes is relatively rich in carbohydrates. It also contains proteins, but is quite low in minerals, B vitamins, and vitamin C. It contains a lot of fiber.

The Jerusalem artichoke is particularly difficult to digest. This is because part of its carbohydrate is composed of inulin, which ferments in the colon because we are not equipped (unlike animals) with the enzyme needed to break it down. This, combined with its high fiber content, is the cause of digestive discomfort, flatulence. It is understandable that this vegetable was long forgotten. 

The most common varieties are:

. White Jerusalem #artichoke, Challenger, Stampede: round and quite lumpy.

. Volga 2, Fuseau (white or red): elongated, pinkish, smooth, and quite sweet.

. Sooke: round, reddish, white delicate flesh.

. Violet de Rennes: pear-shaped with purple skin.

Jerusalem artichokes are available from October through April.