What On Earth is a Tiger Nut?
The first thing to know about tiger nuts is that they are not nuts! They are actually a vegetable that grows on the roots of a tall grass from the sedge family. The Latin name is Cyperus esclulentus, but they are also known as earth almond, nut grass or as chufa in Spain. Tiger nuts are one of THE original paleo foods having been eaten by our ancient ancestors, and are also one of the oldest cultivated crops. They are grown mainly in Spain and Africa.
They are a nutrient dense food high in fibre, iron, potassium and vitamins, for example a small handful has as much vitamin E as six avocados! Tiger nuts are also a great source of resistant starch, a prebiotic that helps our bodies naturally develop probiotic bacteria, important for a healthy digestive and immune system.
There’s a wide range of tiger nuts, and also a wide range of price and quality available. The drying and storage process is really crucial to the quality of tiger nuts because if not carried out well mould and rot can develop. Some tiger nuts are produced for use as fishing bait, (fish love them too!) and its probably best not to eat these because the drying process isn’t likely to be of a high standard.
You can buy them unpeeled, peeled, milled into coarse or fine flour and even as a milk! Tiger nut milk is known as horchata de chufa in Spain, where it is has been drunk for hundreds of years. The flour can be added to drinks and smoothies and used in sweet, savoury and baking recipes. Tiger nuts are naturally gluten free, nut-free, dairy-free and suitable for those choosing to eat a raw, paleo, or vegan diet.
Really importantly though, tiger nuts taste delicious! They have a natural sweetness and a nutty, slightly creamy taste which some describe as similar to coconut. Difficult to describe exactly, and different varieties have a slightly different taste and texture. I have heard one person describe the taste as if “an almond and a raisin had a baby”!
They are fast growing in popularity, as more and more people are recognising the benefits of eating a nutritious and healthy diet. Tiger nuts are an easy, tasty and versatile way of getting extra goodness into our modern day diets.
mouth-watering to share?