The tiger nut is neither a nut nor an almond and inspires with its unique, sweet taste. We introduce the tiger nuts and give tips on how to grow them in your own garden.
Tigernuts have been found in organic shops for many years and are considered extremely healthy. The sweet nodules also grow here, in pots or the garden. Here you can find out more about the origin of the tiger nut, its properties, and peculiarities when it comes to cultivation.
Tigernut: origin and properties of the tiger nut
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The tiger nut (Cyperus esculentus ) is also known as the tiger nut or the chufa nut and originally comes from Africa. It first came to Spain in the 8th century and from there further north. The tiger nut has long been known in Germany and has been cultivated here since at least the 19th century.
The tiger nut is not related to the almond, it belongs to the sour grasses (Cyperaceae). The plant reaches a height of 30 to 60 centimeters. Their leaves are triangular, grass-like, tapering, and about 0.5 to 1 centimeter wide. In late summer, occasional yellowish flowers form, but mostly the tiger nut plant does not bloom here.
Small, light brown to black nodules, the actual tiger nuts, form underground on thick white roots. Depending on the variety, they can reach a length of up to 3 centimeters. Between the pea-sized variety ‘Prolific’, the large black ‘Large Black’ and the wonderfully sweet ‘Long Sweet’ there are numerous other varieties of tiger nuts. All varieties have a sweet and nutty taste, which gives them the name tiger nut.
Tip: Tigernuts are found in many regions as an invasive neophyte that grows wild in fields and quickly displaces native plants. You should therefore be careful with it in your own garden so that it does not spread from there. This includes using a root barrier and preventing flowering by cutting off buds directly.
Tigernuts love warmth, but cannot tolerate severe drought. You, therefore, need a sunny location on loose soils that have good water storage and never dry out completely. The tasty tiger nuts are only propagated through their subterranean nodules. So-called tiger nut seeds are commercially available, but these are the root nodules.
From the end of May, the tiger nuts can be planted outdoors, because when the soil is warm enough for the African plant. As early as March, the plants can be grown indoors in pots and later placed outside or planted. To do this, soak the nodules in lukewarm water overnight to drive them off. Now fill the pots for the individual tiger nuts with low-nutrient potting soil.
The peat-free, compost-rich substrate stores moisture for optimal plant development and still ensures adequate ventilation of the young roots. The individual tiger nuts are placed in the pots, covered with about 2 cm of earth, and watered vigorously once. At 20 to 25 ° C, the nodules soon sprout their first roots and begin to form the shoot. After sprouting, let the plants grow cooler and bright until they are planted.
At the end of May, the tiger nuts are now allowed to migrate outdoors. For the cultivation of the tiger nuts in the bed, you should place the plants at a distance of 30 x 30 cm in the soil, incorporate some mainly organic long-term fertilizer, such as our Gardender organic universal fertilizer, and water them vigorously after planting. The plant-based granulate is broken down by soil organisms over time and thus releases the nutrients it contains for the tiger nut plant in the long term.
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For the culture in the pot, put two to three plants together in a medium-sized, approx. 10-liter container filled with nutrient-rich potting soil, add a little slow-release fertilizer, and pour in vigorously. Then place the pot in a warm, sunny location. To prevent the soil from drying out on hot days, the surface of the earth should be mulched regularly, for example with lawn clippings or bark mulch.
Maintain tiger nuts
Caring for the tiger nuts is quite easy because in summer you only have to water them regularly so that many root nodules form and the plants do not suffer from drought. In addition to the administration of fertilizer when planting, the tiger nuts require no additional supply of nutrients.
After the harvest, it is time to overwinter the nodules for the next season. The tiger nut can either be overwintered indoors in the form of dried nodules or outdoors. The plant itself dies above ground in autumn, but the nodules of the tiger nuts are conditionally hardy and sprout again next spring after mild winters. A thick layer of mulch made of leaves also protects the tiger nuts sitting in the ground in the cold season.
Harvesting tiger nuts and preserving them
The tiger nut harvest begins in October when the foliage of the grass-like plants turns brown and dies. With the help of a digging fork, you lift the plexus and the delicious nodules out of the earth. The tiger nuts can now easily be collected, but you should only wash them shortly before using them. Fresh from the earth, only gently washed and with their skin on, the tiger nuts taste particularly fine. The tiger nuts can also be dried gently and slowly at 50 – 60 ° C in the oven or dehydrator and thus preserved for up to two years.
Use and ingredients of tiger nuts
The tiger nut is a real alternative for all nut allergy sufferers and is particularly well tolerated. Tigernuts are extremely healthy, they contain many minerals and vitamins, such as biotin, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They consist of about a quarter of fat, almost a third of carbohydrates, and about 7% of protein. The high fiber content between 14 and 24% is particularly filling and digestible. Therefore, tiger nuts have a particularly positive effect on the intestines.
The root nodules can be eaten raw, but they are mostly found in the form of tiger nut flour or roasted and sliced as an ingredient for tiger nut mueslis or porridge. Whole, dried tiger nuts can serve as a filling, healthy snack between meals. In Spain, tiger nuts are processed into Horchata de Chufa, a soft drink made from sugar and ground and soaked tiger nuts.
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