Ani & Chris were one of the first suppliers we spoke to when we first had this crazy idea of setting up a Paleo store back in early 2017. They have put up with the ups and downs and plenty of late night panic ‘is this a real order’ emails. We love their loyalty and patience, their dedication and passion, but most of all we love their amazing tiger nut products.

Why did you start The Tiger Nut Company?

Ani grew up drinking horchata as a child in Spain, she introduced me to it and we had the idea to bring it to the UK.  Neither of us worked in food, but we started to research horchata and tiger nuts and discovered the amazingness of these little tubers. Then we tasted one and we were hooked and instantly knew we just had to spread our #tigernutlove!

So, what exactly are tiger nuts and why are they so good for us?

tiger nuts from The Tiger Nut Company
Perfect for making tiger nut mylk

Tiger Nuts are an original ancestral food – in spite of their name they are not nuts at all, they are actually a starchy root vegetable which grows a bit like a potato. Research from Oxford University has shown that ancient man lived on tiger nuts, grasshoppers and worms. Tiger nuts, most importantly accounted for about 80% of their diet and provided the high amounts of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids needed for brain development.

In terms of being good for us they actually have a perfect ratio of macronutrients. For example, Paleo experts suggest an ideal diet for humans is one with:

  • 50 – 60% fat
  • 25 – 40% carbohydrate
  • 5 – 20% protein

Human breast milk has:

  • 51% fat
  • 39% carbohydrate
  • 6% protein

When you compare that to tiger nuts:

  • 51% fat
  • 42% carbohydrate
  • 7% protein

It seems obvious that tiger nuts seem to be designed for humans!  In addition they are insanely nutrient dense. A small handful of Tiger Nuts has as much vitamin E as six avocados, and they are more nutritious in 56% of nutrients than red meat! (Nikoley 2014).

They are also a great source of prebiotic fibre, which is really important for improving gut health, and they can help reduce chronic inflammation. They can even help fertility and boost male virility!

What are the different types of tiger nuts and how are they different?

Tiger nuts from The Tiger Nut Company
The Tiger Nut Company’s Chufa Di Valencia

There are many varieties of tiger nuts each with its own flavour. But flavour is also determined by where they grow, how they are stored and how they are dried. The African variety are larger, whiter and have a slight coconutty taste whereas the Chufa de Valencia are smaller, creamier and taste more earthy.

Where do your tiger nuts come from and how do you ensure quality?

The growing and drying process is hugely important to the quality – and our tiger nuts are dried in carefully controlled barns for a minimum of three to five months and are turned by hand once or twice a day. This ensures that drying is even and the flavour develops fully. If this isn’t done well there can be a musty smell, or even mould caused by spores inside the tiger nuts. It can sound very romantic to buy tiger nuts which are dried in open fields in the sun – but in reality this makes it impossible to ensure high quality. Also we want to ensure that animals and pests don’t come into contact with our tiger nuts whilst they are drying, which can be a problem with open field drying.

What kind of traceability do you have?

We know the exact fields and the farmers who grow our tiger nuts in Spain. We work with only one EU supplier for our African tiger nuts, who owns the farms in Africa and knows the farmers who grow our tiger nuts. The African tiger nuts are imported, washed and dried in Spain, and are sorted and electronically scanned before packing in gluten free and nut free environments.

Are your tiger nuts fair trade and organic?

Yes. We think it is really important that our tiger nuts are helping to lift workers out of poverty in Africa. In Valencia we are helping to keep important cultural values and traditions alive.

 

We love your quirky packaging. Tell us about it…

Our tiger nuts are packed at source and vacuum sealed. To open the bags, throw the packaging and repack seemed like a total waste of resources, and even though it creates many limitations for us as a brand – very early on we made a decision not to repack. To be honest we were laughed at, but we stuck with our decision and came up with labels that we could simply stick on to the packs ourselves. This means our tiger nuts are sold in the original packaging. It is a little quirky but ultimately means that we use fewer resources, create less waste and our tiger nuts reach you in super fresh condition!

Give us some examples of how to use tiger nuts:

There are so many ways they can be used – and we are always discovering more! They can be eaten from the pack, or after soaking, raw, cooked, baked, sweet and savoury and you can even make a milk from them.  My favourite thing is to make horchata, or tiger nut mylk which I drink almost every day. You simply soak overnight, blend and strain to get delicious fresh mylk. Take a look at the how-to video here. I also love them raw on salad, or my new obsession is avocado dipped in Tiger Nuts crunch then sprinkled with apple cider vinegar and sea salt! Chris’s favourite thing is tiger nut biscuits, or as part of a home-made granola for breakfast.

Any favourite tiger nut recipes you’d like to share?

These raw carrot cake bites are amazing…

 

How did you come up with the amazing tiger nut chocolate?

Ahhh – Chris is a serious chocoholic! We came up with our recipe to help him manage his addiction healthily! Originally I wanted to put flowers on our bars and make them pretty,  but Chris’s criteria is that our bars have to be chunky and have a proper chocolate taste – my criteria is that our bars have to be raw, healthy and actively good for you.  I never really liked chocolate but I absolutely love ours! We now have two flavours, our original bar and our new exotic Chai bar – and I still hope to have a pretty bar with flowers on one day!

Any new products we can look forward to?

Lots! We are working on a tiger nut butter, snack bars and also a range of skin care.

What P&Co product do you love (other than your own)?

We are in love with Hunter and Gather avocado oil and mayonnaise – we honestly get through bottles of it! Also the Harbour Smokehouse smoked sea salt is just amazing.

Thank you Ani & Chris.

Check out the full range of Tiger Nut Company Products here.

References:

Richard Nikoley (2014) The Incredible Edible Tiger Nut. Free the Animal [online] Available at:<http://freetheanimal.com/2014/09/incredible-edible-tigernut.html> {Accessed on 11.2.18]

Oxford University (2014) Ancient Human Ancestors “Nutcracker Man’ lived on tiger nuts. Oxford University News. [online] Available at:<http://freetheanimal.com/2014/09/incredible-edible-tigernut.html> [Accessed on 11.2.18]