Ever heard of tiger nuts? They sound very like nuts but are actually the small dried edible tuber of a kind of sedge which is grown in the ground like potatoes. Also known as cyperus esculentus or chufa sedge, nut grass, yellow nutsedge, tigernut sedge, or earth almond it is found in sub tropical countries and parts of Europe. Today it’s popular in Spain and is used to make a non-alcoholic milky beverage called Horchata de chufa.
To use the tiger nuts, which have a slightly sweet, nutty flavour and are quite hard, you need to soak then in water before you eat them.
They have been used for centuries across Africa and even in Egypt
(From Wiki) “Flour of roasted tigernut is sometimes added to biscuits and other bakery products as well as in making oil, soap, and starch extracts. It is also used for the production of nougat, jam, beer, and as a flavoring agent in ice cream and in the preparation of kunnu (a local beverage in Nigeria). Kunnu is a nonalcoholic beverage prepared mainly from cereals (such as millet or sorghum) by heating and mixing with spices (dandelion, alligator pepper, ginger, licorice) and sugar. To make up for the poor nutritional value of kunnu prepared from cereals, tigernut was found to be a good substitute for cereal grains. Tigernuts oil can be used naturally with salads or for deep frying. It is considered as high quality oil. Tigernut “milk” has been tried as an alternative source of milk in fermented products, such as yogurt production, and other fermented products common in some African countries and can thus be useful replacing milk in the diet of people intolerant to lactose to a certain extent.”
So far my research has shown that tiger nuts are not nuts at all and are actually packed with natural goodness. They are a good source of fibre and are also naturally gluten free.
However I did find a few instances of reported allergies to tiger nuts in Spain.
It is a concentrated organic tigernut drink which you dilute with water, use as a drink mixer or for in cooking. It is made with tigernuts, is a dairy free alternative to milk and is gluten free – suitable for coeliacs.
Each 500ml bottle makes a total of of 2.5 litres of drink when diluted with water.
All this drink is made from is tiger nuts, water, sugar and xanthan gum.
For even more information about tiger nuts, their dietary information and recipes check out the Ancient Foods blog here.
Have you tried Horchata or eaten tiger nuts? Or had you never even heard of them before like me? No doctor has ever mentioned them to me either so next time I visit I’ll ask for an allergy test before I try them, if I can get hold of some. Anyone know where you can buy just tiger nuts in the shops?
And finally, is there anyone out there with a nut allergy who can eat tiger nuts? I would love to hear from you, are they nice? Would you recommend them?