Author Topic: Tiger nuts / chufa  (Read 700 times)

squeezyjohn

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 810
  • Oxfordshire - Sandy loam on top of clay
Tiger nuts / chufa
« on: May 08, 2017, 21:54:09 »
I'm a sucker for a new thing to grow that's edible.  I have known about tiger nuts for years, but didn't realise they were actually a tuber that's been dried and not a real nut.  The experience of eating them suggests that they're good for you ... and they are too, a superfood according to some ... the delicious taste which is a bit like a cross between a chestnut and an almond is quickly replaced by the sensation of chewing a mouth full of sawdust!  It's not surprising that they are a good source of fibre.

Anyway ... they are much better if you soak them first for a day.  They can also be used to make a really first class non-dairy nut milk by blitzing up with some water and straining through a cloth.  The leftover fibre can be added to all sorts of biscuits, breads and dried fruit snack bars to make it completely palatable.

And here comes the good bit.  If you plant them after soaking, they make a neat little sedge-family plant that looks a bit like grass.  Planted out now they function just like mini-potatoes and make lots more of themselves in our British climate.  Given their small size I imagine they'd be a great candidate for growing in buckets and tubs because I can imagine sifting through the soil to find them at harvest time would be a bit too much like hard work.  The plants like good levels of water so would need tending in a dry summer but can tolerate a waterlogged spot happily.

I couldn't find anything here about growing them, so I'm starting this thread as I'm going to give it a go this year.  Anyone else tried them?  You can buy plants ready started from some of the seed-merchants, but apparently you can just plant the ones sold by health food shops for eating.

ACE

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,295
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 09:58:00 »
I like that idea, I think I will have a go at them, providing I don't eat them first. I loved them as a nipper, you only needed an ha'penny for a bag of them and they would last all day. Sugar rationing stopped us buying sweets but tiger nuts did not need a coupon.

Vinlander

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,243
  • North London - heavy but fertile clay
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2017, 10:15:45 »
I'm also amazed at how little-known they are - I think the "mouthful of dust" issue is key. Many people write them off after that experience. Especially if they experience the coughing fit you can get if any of the dust gets into your lungs - yes, I've been known to talk with my mouth 1/4 full...

The key is the 'milk' - they call it "horchata de chufas" in Valencia, and nobody there would dream of eating them any other way - it's absolutely delicious from the market- and street-vendors, less so from the supermarket - the bottled stuff is aimed at kids - it certainly has more sugar than I can enjoy, and a lot less nut flavour too.

It's better home made in a blender, with the side effect that there's more flavour left in the residue - which is delicious used in breadmaking - it gives a really more-ish nutty flavour - nicer and more subtle than using desiccated coconut.

I can't judge the superfood issues, but surely it can't possibly trigger any nut reactions? It's not a nut, not even a seed, it's a tuber!

There are lots of threads already - just search "chufa" - and some of them warn of how difficult they can be to sprout.

The other downside is that anglers soak and use them as bait, and for this purpose they are sold more cheaply but parboiled and dried to speed up the soaking.

I'm sure I was sold some (as human food) in a bag distributed by an unscrupulous (or greedy & ignorant) packager. They were tasteless and some tasted rotten (anglers let them rot to attract more fish - maybe they just rotted during drying).

Cheers

With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

squeezyjohn

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 810
  • Oxfordshire - Sandy loam on top of clay
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 20:16:33 »
Thanks for the advice Vinlander ... I did try searching here but chufa only turns up this thread!  Using google gives a few more pages on other forums, but surprisingly little.  I've tried making the nut milk already from some of the ones I bought to try and grow and it's quite easy and indeed it is delicious.  Those Spanish recipes add loads of honey or sugar, but for me the milk is quite sweet enough on its own.  I stupidly threw away the pulp but will retain it in future as suggested above.

Good to know I won't be alone ACE! I'm definitely going to try them in buckets which I can waterlog artificially by standing them in an old bath.  Just need to see if any sprout now!

AnnieD

  • Quarter Acre
  • **
  • Posts: 59
  • Royston, North Herts, very chalky
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2017, 21:42:19 »
There's an article about them in the June issue of Kitchen Garden, I thought they sounded interesting.
Located in Royston, North Herts.

Hector

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,842
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 10:47:03 »
I havent had these for a long time and fancy making nut milk. Sounds worth a go.
Jackie

Hector

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,842
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2017, 07:55:40 »
Ps Dobies have plug plants
Jackie

Vinlander

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,243
  • North London - heavy but fertile clay
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2017, 09:18:13 »
Thanks for the advice Vinlander ... I did try searching here but chufa only turns up this thread!
Weird - I've attached a screendump of what I get.

Are you using a mobile device? I've never used A4A search on mobile - but I've noticed that the mobile version of Google search is absolutely useless (and full of multiple irrelevant answers - presumably "sponsored").

I always have to go to a computer to find anything worth buying otherwise I'd miss 95% of what I want.

I get 1.4million hits on my laptop - admittedly most of them are selling chufa products at absurd prices, but in the past I've got other gardening fora - including US ones where 50% of the threads are about getting rid of an invasion of them.

Cheers
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 09:20:52 by Vinlander »
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Hector

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,842
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 13:33:01 »
Id be very interested in growing these in containers....online all I can find is a reference to gallon sized pots.....and conflicting info re eventual height.
Dobies plug plants have arrived....nice looking grass! They can only say space 9-10 inches .

Vinlander what height and spacing did you use...wondering about pots or in wee raised bed I have. I also have two space 30 litre pots.
Jackie

AnnieD

  • Quarter Acre
  • **
  • Posts: 59
  • Royston, North Herts, very chalky
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 14:34:12 »
I saw some in Wyevale, so bought them. I'm just going to bung them in a plastic pot and see what happens.

My philosophy for my first year - just see what works  :happy7:
Located in Royston, North Herts.

ancellsfarmer

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 724
  • Plot is London clay, rich in Mesozoic fossils
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2017, 18:22:39 »
Freelance cultivator qualified within the University of Life.

Vinlander

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,243
  • North London - heavy but fertile clay
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2017, 12:22:16 »
Vinlander what height and spacing did you use...wondering about pots or in wee raised bed I have. I also have two space 30 litre pots.
Ah... there's the rub. I love 'em, and want to grow them but there are many hurdles before you get a crop, and I'm not sure they will ever make anyone chufa-self-sufficient planted outside in the UK (I can't really afford the space in my polytunnel).

That's why I'm looking forwards to finding out how the Dobies plants do... Maybe their first year in a polytunnel would tip the balance enough for cropping in open ground.

I've had very little success getting the tubers to sprout in spring - and when I got a few sprouts into a big pot they didn't produce much more leaf than a grass seed would have in its first year - no surprise that there were no tubers produced.

So I still don't know if they taste better fresh.

It became even more frustrating when they started disappearing from shops about 8 or 10? years ago - when you could buy tigernuts in health food shops for about the same price as sunflower seeds. Originally they were a weed in the Valencia rice fields - that's what's so nice about the whole story - the Valencians went one better than turning lemons into lemonade.

It's nice that they are having a renaissance - but if they take off as a superfood I'm sure the shop price will magically change to something like pine nuts. Then it would be cheaper to fly to Valencia and bring back 5 kilos, never mind 22.

Here is a link that hints at the requirements http://en.chufadevalencia.org/ver/14/Tigernut-cultivation.html

There is also a map in a study link showing main production in Spain and Africa. Also some local production in places colder than the UK - but nothing about how they do it.

Cheers.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Hector

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,842
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2017, 15:38:33 »
THanks Vinlander. ILl plant groups of them differently and use this year as a learning curve.

I love Tiger nuts but havent seen them for years.......price will be interesting if it becomes trendy...I see one site refers to them as artisan....
Jackie

squeezyjohn

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 810
  • Oxfordshire - Sandy loam on top of clay
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2017, 19:53:34 »
I soaked some and left them in a damp closed container and while they definitely didn't all sprout I now have about 8 nice little plants developiing.  It seems a bit late in the season for them to do well and make anything like a crop.  But I will try and see how they grow anyway.  Next year I can try starting them in March/April and I reckon it might be another fun crop.

sparrow

  • Acre
  • ****
  • Posts: 464
    • mudandgluts
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2017, 07:29:52 »
I got mine from Thomas Etty - 33 little tubers for 3 and most of them have sprouted. I have belatedly realised that they are waaaaaay too close in the pot. I've seen the online recommendations to plant a foot apart and I have stuffed them into two pots! I will be hoiking them out forthwith and hope that they deal with the transition ok.

squeezyjohn

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 810
  • Oxfordshire - Sandy loam on top of clay
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2017, 08:07:30 »
Mine were just the ones for eating - a spanish variety I think.

squeezyjohn

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 810
  • Oxfordshire - Sandy loam on top of clay
Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2017, 13:08:49 »
Oh my God!  We just found the tiger nuts that were soaked and then forgotten about in a plastic bag outside the back door ... About 50% of them have germinated and have knitted themselves together .... How far apart do you plant them again? I've got about 100 plants here!

Allotments 4 All

Re: Tiger nuts / chufa
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2017, 13:08:49 »

 

anything