THIS time last year I was in my second week working for Cultivate and enjoying discovering veg varieties I’d never come across while shopping in the supermarkets.

One of my first new discoveries was the Jerusalem Artichoke: I spotted it on our price list and searched our shelves for a globe shaped veg with an armour-like exterior.

Much to my surprise the vegetable I found was a knobbly tuber, looking more like a gnarled ginger root than what I knew to be an artichoke.

It turns out that a Jerusalem Artichoke is neither an artichoke or from Jerusalem.

It's actually a relation of the sunflower, and is known as a sunchoke in the US.

Above ground they look much like a giant daisy or sunflower and can reach five to 15ft high.

Under the soil you'll find the knobbled, swollen tubers that make a sweet and nutty winter dish.

The uniquely delicious and slightly sweet flavour of this veg is mostly due to the presence of inulin, a starchy substance found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including wheat, onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus.

Unfortunately humans lack the enzymes to digest inulin in the stomach so it’s left to the bacteria in our intestines to break it down, a by-product of which is carbon dioxide.

That explains why they have earned the nickname ‘fartichokes’ among VegVan customers...

Despite their windy side-effects, these unusual veg are a popular winter treat.

Prepare them in much the same way as a potato, although they can also be eaten raw.

You're welcome to tackle peeling each nodular root but there's no need – a good scrub will do.

Sliced and braised in butter they make a tasty addition to salads, and treated similarly and then puréed, artichokes are great in risottos and soups.

Combining Jerusalem artichokes with other veg, for example mashed with waxy potatoes, makes it possible to enjoy the benefits of this tasty tuber whilst avoiding the repercussions.

If you've not tried them before I'd definitely recommend having a go, as there's nothing that tastes quite like them.