Topinambur dei Sibillini
Helianthus tuberosus L.
RISK OF EROSION: high
Jerusalem artichoke is a plant that can reach 3 m in height, herbaceous that brings the buds arranged in reserve organs (rhizomes) in an underground position. The edible part is represented by the rhizome, in our case, of white color, of medium size and peel with just hinted roughness. The rhizomes develop in the autumn summer period depending on the climatic trend. Flowering occurs in late summer (between August and October) with the numerous appearance of intense yellow flowers. After flowering, the epigeal part of the plant goes to death and in the following spring, from the rhizomes left in the ground, new shoots are born. It prefers moist soils with a neutral ph, both calcareous and siliceous. It is possible to contract it among the ferns, in the woods of conifers, oaks and chestnuts very frequent in the typical habitat of the Sibillini Mountains. Its rusticity allows it to survive in marginal lands, on the edges of the roads, but naturally it reaches the maximum of qualitative and quantitative production in soils with high nutritional value.
Very vital species considered, in the past, as a weed. Mr. Leonardi Giovanni, born in Montemonaco in 1947, remembers the consumption of tubers since he was a boy, therefore for more than sixty years. In the early years of the twentieth century the tubers of this plant were mostly intended for feeding pigs, only in the last 20/25 years, thanks to the discovery of some of its particular health, nutraceutical and organoleptic properties, Jerusalem artichoke has been the subject of a greater demand in local markets and a real boom in the markets of northern Italy. Mr. Leonardi Giovanni, an appreciated agricultural entrepreneur and careful observer of the market, is convinced that the demand for this rhizome would increase if there was greater disclosure of his properties. The farmer has noticed an increase in interest both in the local market of Comunanza and in the more distant and popular market of Ancona where he gives the collected rhizomes. In Northern Italy, especially in Piedmont, it is used for the preparation of typical dishes such as bagnacauda and fondue, in the Marche it is eaten cooked in various ways or raw in salads.
TYPICAL PRODUCTION AREA
The distribution area is very vast including hilly and foothill areas, naturally the types vary with the variation of the area of origin highlighting distinctions inherent to the color of the epidermis,
the shape and size of the rhizome, while the epigeal part is very similar. The Jerusalem artichoke Ascolano is recognized for its small rhizomes, creamy white in color and with an almost smooth epidermis. Its presence can be found in the area of the municipalities of Comunanza, Montefortino and Montemonaco.
Much appreciated in local kitchens but also in niche kitchens, this is demonstrated by the fact that there are hundreds of recipes that enhance the taste. It can be eaten both raw and cooked: in the first case with oil, salt and pepper, in the second just seared and then au gratin, fried or used as a sauce for risotto combined with mushrooms. Thanks to the inulin content it is acceptable in diets for diabetic people. Inulin is a complex sugar metabolized only in the last part of the intestine and therefore minimally absorbed. The fibrous character of the tuber facilitates the bacterial flora and is also very rich in mineral salts. It would seem that its use in the diet leads to a reduction in cholesterol and stabilization of the concentration of glucose in the blood and uric acid. According to folk medicine, this tuber is characterized by the following medicinal properties:
- facilitates bile secretion (cholagogue properties);
- facilitates the release of urine (diuretic);
- facilitates digestive (stomachic) function;
- strengthens the body in general (tonic).