Before we address what tiger nuts are, we will tell you what they are not. They are not nuts and they have little to do with tigers (with the exception of the tiny stripes on their exterior). Tiger nuts have grown in popularity over the last few years as a nutrient dense snack food and versatile nut milk.
What are Tiger Nuts?
Tigernuts, also known as chufa, earth nuts, or yellow nutsedge, are a type of edible tuber that grows in wet, marshy environments throughout Southern Europe, Africa, the Middleeast and India. The plant from which the tiger nut is derived is called cyperus esculentus and it has been cultivated since ancient times (roots of the plant were discovered to be eighteen thousand years old). Cyperus esculentus plants are harvested in November in December at which point the tuber is pulled from the ground, cleaned, and allowed to dry in the sun for about 3 months. As the tiger nuts dry they are rotated daily to avoid rot and to uniformly cure the tuber.
What do Tiger Nuts Taste Like?
Tiger nuts have a sweet and nutty taste not unlike almonds or pecans. They have a smooth exterior with small stripes for which they are named. Tiger nuts can be eaten raw, roasted, dried, baked, or pressed into oil or milk. In Spain, horchata is made with tiger nut milk and not almond milk or rice milk, which is typical in other countries. Tiger nuts can also be dried and ground into flour for use in cakes and breads.
Where Can I Buy Tigernuts?
Some specialty grocery stores and health food shops carry tiger nuts, but online retailers will have the greatest selection of tiger nuts.
Feature Image: Marco Schmidt – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0)