Growers are handing out free samples of Jerusalem artichokes to get rid of surplus stock following a bumper harvest caused by last year's wet weather.

In a bid to get more people interested in trying the vegetable, home delivery box scheme specialist Riverford Organic Vegetables this week began giving away a total of 23 tonnes of taster bagfuls. It also wanted to highlight the benefits of eating local, seasonal British food, it said.

"Jerusalem artichokes have a fantastic sweet nutty taste, are good value, versatile and are under-rated," said founder Guy Watson. "You can use them in stews, stir-fries, salads, roasts, bake them or make soup with them. They're used a lot in the Middle East."

Watson added that the vegetables, which are not related to other artichokes, flourished in poor weather and did not suffer from pests and diseases.

He estimated there were only about 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of the crop grown in the UK.