Everyone is going nuts for Tiger Nuts, why?
In case you hadn’t heard, everyone seems to be going nuts for tiger nuts. In this article we are going to shine a light on this delicious little gem and hopefully rewrite some of the biggest myths out there.
What is a Tiger Nut?
Firstly, tiger nut is a misleading name. In fact, it’s not a nut at all. Nor is it anything you might find on a tiger, by the way, but hopefully you guessed that already!
These ‘nuts’ are actually edible tubers, putting them in the same category as anemone, caladium, dahlia, peony, and the humble potato. Their name comes from the striped pattern and nut-like appearance and taste.
Never heard of this curious cuisine? Well it’s time to take note! There’s a rising global interest in tiger nuts as a health food, on a scale that we previously saw for blueberries, avocado and kale. Code red, people, we have another ‘superfood’ situation on our hands!
Why are tiger nuts seen as a superfood?
As the main storage stem for some plants, tubers are rich in dietary benefits. They are literally the part of the plant that gets packed with nutritious value – magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, vitamin C, and much more. Tiger nuts are considered a superfood due to the health benefits associated with this nutritional goodness.
To name just a few of those emerging health benefits, tiger nuts are famously connected to aiding digestion and may help control blood sugar levels due to their high levels of insoluble fibre, and could help fight off infections by boosting your immune system.
Tiger nuts are also, like our range of olive oils, high in monounsaturated fats which is repeatedly connected to improved heart health. As we love to highlight for you, diets rich in monounsaturated fats are linked to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. These fats are also associated with a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease. Got to love the good fats!
Where are they from?
While tiger nuts may be part of a new fad, they are definitely not a new food. They’ve been consumed around the world for thousands of years.Tiger nuts have been cultivated by humans for thousands of years, first cultivated in ancient Egypt. They were considered sacred by the Egyptian pharaohs and were highly praised among the ancient Arab, Persian and Chinese empires.
Nowadays, most tiger nuts are produced in Africa and Spain. You may have come across them under a different name, earth almonds, or as we call them in Spain, chufas.
What do Tiger Nuts taste like?
The tiger nut is the tuber of the ‘Cyperus esculentus’ plant, also known as the yellow nutsedge, a type of sedge grass that is sometimes dismissed as a weed!
To taste, tiger nuts have an interesting texture; firm and chewy on the outside, softer on the inside. As far as the actual flavour, it's quite earthy but with a wholesome natural sweetness. Imagine it like a Brazil nut but the light sweetness of a pecan.
In Spain, tiger nuts are also the main ingredient in chufa milk, a drink that locals call horchata de chufa.
What is Horchata de chufa?
Horchata is a beautifully sweet and refreshing beverage and is made by grinding tiger nuts with water and sugar. The drink is often made with a touch of lemon and cinnamon. Horchata sits perfectly within the Mediterranean diet and is very popular all around Spain when temperatures rise in spring and summer .
Like the tiger nuts themselves, horchata is super healthy – full of iron, potassium, and antioxidants – and provides a great alternative milk for people who don’t or can’t consume dairy. In Valencia, horchata is traditionally paired with fartons, a long, sweet kind of bread that is the perfect match for the chufa milk.
Tiger nut cultivation
It takes a full year to grow and cultivate tiger nuts, a process which comprises three phases: the planting, curing and sorting.
There are many parallels between many traditional tiger nut producers and La Española olive oil, in that both are cultivated following sustainable techniques of farmers with many generations of experience. The methods used in both olive oil and tiger nut production are some of the most deeply rooted traditions of our cuisine culture.