Tuesday 3 June 2014

I really love your tiger feet.

Tiger Feet by Mud

What can I say except I've just watched a particularly gory episode of Game of Thrones, I need some brain bleach and this mentions the word tiger.

tiger nuts chufa

Tiger nuts on the other hand don't have nearly such a compulsive beat but after several years chasing the Andean tuber trail with mixed success (and trying again this year) I decided that perhaps I should be growing something that thrives closer to home.

Cyperus esculentus is a sedge grass that grows around the Mediterranean (and in many other countries) which was probably first cultivated in Egypt. I'd tried horchata made with these nutty flavoured tubers and found it pleasant, if horrendously expensive but the raw tubers were a delicious revelation to me. They are really good and sweet.

The picture above shows the tubers as they are usually sold; cleaned and dried and then after soaking in cold water for twenty-four hours. Once soaked they are crisp although the fibrous skin is a bit chewy. I actually like this a lot, it brings me in touch with my inner gorilla but if they were a major part of my diet I can imagine my dentist getter richer as my teeth wore away. Humans just aren't built for this sort of mastication. Still, there's always home made tiger milk .

In appropriate conditions the returns can be impressive but northern France is not Valencia so this year I'm just trialling a few plants. It's such a widely grown crop I'm sure there are many cultivars which might suit our conditions better but in the absence of suppliers I took my planting material from the same bag of commercial chufa I'd bought for taste testing, soaked them and then planted up in a big pot in the greenhouse. To be honest I wasn't sure they were alive because they seemed to take weeks (maybe four) to make top growth but now they look like this.

tiger nuts sedge

It's my intention to split these out and plant them in a row. I don't think they'll be too worried about the root disturbance and looking at them I'll need to be pretty sure where I've planted them before they get lost in the untended weed patch that is the vegetable garden this year. They are killed by hard frosts so probably won't survive to become a pest but it is a consideration, they are known as invasive weeds in many countries. Still I think I'd rather battle earth almonds than couch grass.


AlisonC said...

My grandma had a passion for those dating from her childhood in the 1900s apparently. I found that odd as I never saw any until I was grown up, I don't think.

AlisonC said...

Oops - sorry about duplication, internewts are playing up xx

Catofstripes said...

They are very sweet and lovely and would have been easy to transport. Something from the colonies I suppose :)

Justine said...

They were on sale in my infant school playground at 2d a bag. Never had them since then, in fact I looked them up on Wikipedia a year or two ago as I'd been wondering exactly what they were.

AlisonC said...

Yes, I see India is one of the places they cultivate them so perhaps people who were in the army in India (which one of my great-uncles or something was I think) had had them there? My grandma's mother had a grocer's shop in the east end of London so maybe they sold them. Odd the way they seem to come and go - not seen any recently apart from here.

Catofstripes said...

I hesitate to ask how many years ago that was Lunnunis (but I can guess :)) I don't think we had them at school, I first tried Horchata about 30 years ago when it was being promoted as a hip alternative to soy milk.

Alison, I'm sorry to say I got mine via (makes sign) Amazon but I'm sure all good health shops would oblige.