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Edible Editions – The Mystery of the Tigernut

Despite what its name suggests the tigernut is nut-free, and has nothing to do with large striped felines. The tigernut is in fact a tuber packed with nutrition and flavour. Also known as chufa, nut grass or yellow nutsedge, the root vegetable originated in Northern Africa and has been around for millions of years. Treasured in […]

Despite what its name suggests the tigernut is nut-free, and has nothing to do with large striped felines. The tigernut is in fact a tuber packed with nutrition and flavour. Also known as chufa, nut grass or yellow nutsedge, the root vegetable originated in Northern Africa and has been around for millions of years.

Treasured in Ancient Egypt and used for centuries throughout the rest of Northern Africa and the Mediterranean, tigernuts are only recently receiving the attention of the Western world. Similar to another misnomer, the peanut, tigernuts grow in the ground. The small sultana-sized vegetables grow under tufts of grass. After harvest they undergo a three-month drying process, turned regularly to ensure it’s done evenly. When they’re ready to hit the market tigernuts have a shelf life of around two years. So, what’s all the fuss about? Nut free and gluten free, tigernuts are also high in dietary fibre, particularly in resistant starch. In fact they’re the highest whole food source of the stuff. Said to be a mild appetite suppressant, resistant starch is also a prebiotic, nourishing the good bacteria already present in our gut.

Tigernuts are high in antioxidants, vitamins E and C, phosphorous, potassium and manganese. The tiny things also contain as much iron as red meat! Most importantly, they taste delicious with hints of coconut, vanilla and almond paired with a subtle natural sweetness.

About 9 months ago Sydney childhood friends Rob and James were travelling overseas. They happened to try the tigernut and, eager to share it with the Aussie market, traced it back to the Valencian farm it came from. Tim, another good mate, joined the duo when they arrived back in Australia and Health & Harvest was born.

Health & Harvest’s products come from that same farm, their products being grown organically across farmland in Spain and Northern Africa.

They also import tigernut flour, a versatile gluten-free substitute. It can be used in savoury cooking but is particularly handy for baking healthier sweets. With its natural sweetness you can get a great result whilst reducing the amount of added sugar you use. Tigernuts can also be eaten raw but are quite abrasive because of their high fibre content. It’s as easy as soaking them overnight in water to soften them.

Rob’s favourite way to eat tiger nut is as a tigernut horchata. It also happens to be the only way you’re likely to encounter tigernut in Spain (in Mexico rice milk is used in its place). After being soaked the small legumes are blended with water. The Spaniards tend to be heavy handed when adding sugar but it’s really not needed. ‘I really like that because its just tigernuts and water – and it’s a really creamy, nut-free, ‘nut milk’’.

Intrigued about this the soy, dairy, grain, nut and seed free vegetable? For now the Australian market is still quite young, with Health & Harvest being one of the first tigernut importers. ‘It’s primarily an education piece to start with’, Rob explains. But, with the tuber growing in popularity in health food stores across the UK and US, it’s likely to catch on quickly. Together with its impressive CV of health benefits, and its delicious taste, it’s also a wonderful choice for those with intolerances and allergies. It most definitely fits into the definition of Paleo and is vegan-friendly. It’s also a must-try for those omnivores with no dietary restrictions whatsoever. Watch everyone go ‘nuts’ over it.

Visit Edible Editions online at http://edibleeditions.com for the original article and more insightful reads around the latest health and beauty trends. Thank you Danya for the great piece!

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