I also have a CHUFA harvest series.
Read it here.
At Tourne-Sol farm, we drill our apprentices in the importance of efficiency, profitability and priority setting. So it’s understandable that our apprentices thought it was a hoot when we spent part of an afternoon on hands and knees riffling through the soil for bean-sized chufa tubers.
Still, I love these nuts and make a point of growing them for our seed catalogue and especially to snack on.
MEETING THE CHUFA NUT
Chufa nuts are also called tiger nuts or earth almonds. They have a nutty taste similar to coconuts that gets sweeter as they dry.
They are sometimes mistaken for yellow nutsedge (an invasive weed on many farms). In fact, chufa and yellow nutsedge are both varieties of Cyperus esculentus but with a couple key differences:
- chufa tubers are a touch bigger than yellow nutsedge
- chufa plants (and tubers) frost kill and therefore don’t overwinter in our Quebec climate
I’ll repeat that, chufa nuts are NOT invasive where the ground freezes heavily. Of course, before planting any chufa, make sure you aren’t buying mislabelled yellow nutsedge.
Chufa look like this (though a bit smaller):
GROWING CHUFA NUTS
Chufa nuts are usually propagated vegetatively. That means you plant a chufa nut to grow a chufa plant. (They don’t seem to set seed on our farm.)
This is how we plant chufa
- Wait till after last spring frost (end of May for us)
- Soak chufa nuts in water for 24 hours
- Plant one inch deep
- Space plants one foot apart from each other
- Wait 1-2 to weeks to see first shoots emerge
After a few years of wrestling with weedy chufa plots, I now place a stick upright beside each planted chufa nut. This way I know where to weed (and not to weed) as I wait to see the chufa plants.
A month or so later, the chufa plants are about 4″ tall. (This year, I tried intercropping a row of Korean shiso between two chufa rows.)
Mid summer, the chufa is nearing full height though the plants will keep growing in width. (At this point, I started to suspect that the Korean shiso’s growth habits might overcome the chufa.)
By early September, the Shiso was dominating the chufa.
At the end of September, when some of the leaves start browning and weather reports post frost warnings, it’s harvest time!
We dig the plants out with trowels.
Then pull the tubers off the plant and dig around in the soil for any that might have been missed.
We toss the nuts and a fair amount of soil into a bin.
Then blast them with water in a spaghetti colander.
DRYING, CLEANING AND STORING CHUFA
You can eat the chufa right away, though it gets sweeter as it dries down.
We spread the chufa on screens in front of fans.
Once the chufa is dry, I use seed cleaning screens to sort out the biggest chufa for next year’s seed stock. I also remove the smallest nuts, stones, and dust. After the chufa has dried for another couple week, I screen it again to remove any nuts that have shrunk since the last screening.
I store dried chufa in a paper bag at ambient temperature. It holds quite well, I have some nuts that are two years old and looking fine – though I always use the freshest stock for planting.
The easiest way is to pop in mouth and chew.
I have tried making a Spanish beverage called Horchata de Chufa where you soak the nuts for 12 hours with a cinnamon stick, then blend the nuts with water (remove cinnamon), strain the ensuing mixture, add sugar to taste, and drink. I wound up with something rather lumpy though not unpleasant. I’ll have to try it again.
Supposedly, ground chufa flower can also be used for baking though I can’t vouch for that.
These days, we’re pretty much finished in the field. I just got back from giving crop planning workshops in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Olds, Alberta and now I’m switching gears to get into my own own crop planning.
The next couple posts, I’ll catch up on more seedy highlights from the last growing season!
I also have a CHUFA harvest series.
Read it here.
75 thoughts on “CHUFA NUTS”
I certainly love me some chufa. Along with all the squash, this is my favorite thing to grow in our little garden.
I started out last year by planting five or so chufas that you gave me (I ate the rest) and harvested about sixty last fall. This spring I planted about twenty and harvested several hundreds. I’ve saved 80 of the nicest one for next year’s crop. Within a few years I’ll be selling them on the web 😉
One question: nutritionally speaking, is it a nut?
Glad your harvest was a success. I was thinking about you when I wrote this post.
Botanically chufa nuts are not nuts. Nutritionally, I would imagine they are quite different from nuts too – probably less fats and protein. In fact water chestnuts (also a root and not a nut) are close cousins to chufa nuts.
If you’re going to be selling chufa on the web, you should check out these guys: http://www.tigernuts.com/
Hi, do you have any Chufa seeds for sale
We just harvested our crop. Unfortunately it is much smaller than expected.
We will have a limited quantity for sale this year.
Once the chufa is dry, we might ship some out this fall if night temperatures aren’t too cold. Otherwise we will only have the Chufa available at Seedy Saturdays this winter.
Do you know where we can order chufa’s in ontario or canada? Organic ones.. Thanks for the information.
Two sources for Chufa nuts in Canada are:
1. Mapple Farm
and 2. Our own seed company: Tourne-Sol cooperative farm. This is a link to a PDF of our 2010 catalog.
Thank you for posting the info on harvesting chufas. I absolutely LOVE chufas and I am beyond excited to grow them this year.
Are there a lot of tubers per plant?
This woman also sells chufa nuts which I found when I was looking for Jerusalem artichokes (site en français).
The yield per plant depends on weed pressure and soil quality. Under good conditions, we harvest about 100 tubers per plant.
I didn’t know les jardins de Nathalie had chufa nuts. Though she does list them as souchet comestibles (French for Nutsedge) – if you purchase from her, make sure the tubers are annuals and not invasive perennials.
Thanks for the headsup Dan. She confirmed them to be annuals.
I live in Romania/ East Europe and i wish also to try to cultivate chufas for their high oil content.
We live in a 7b hardiness area. Here would it be anual or perene?
Best regards, Mira
How deep does the ground freeze where you are? If it barely freezes, Chufa might be perennial.
If you are worried about introducing an unwanted perennial to your ecosystem, you should only grow a small amount in your first year. If it survives the winter, promptly destroy the plants next year.
Funny, I was going through my seed packets left from last years, and stumbled upon the chufa nut packet you sold me last spring at la Fête des Semences at the Jardin Botanique. I completely forgot what to do with these, so I searched Google and bam! your blog. The web is a small place! 🙂
Because the spring here are long and cool, and the season rather short, I was vaguely thinking of starting the chufa inside, and to grow them in containers on my south-facing porch. Seems like it would also make picking the tuber much easier. I am a bit worried that they dried out or run out of space in the container, though. Do you think the idea has any merit?
I have been missing you guys. Say hi to Emily and the gang on my part!
You can definitely grow chufa in a container. You would probably need a container about 1 foot deep for the root system. If you water a coupe of times a week, I think they’ll do fine.
Keep me posted.
I’ll say hi to the Tourne-Sol team for you.
Hi, do you know if I can grow chuffa in southern Saskatchewan (Regina area)? Great site!
I think you can probably grow Chufa. We plant Chufa around at the end of May and harvest at the end of September – about 120 days. If your frost free period is much shorter, your yields might be lowered. Starting the plants indoors might offset that loss of yield.
I got my chufa from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. in Mansfield, Mo. but mine are the size of large dried peas. I hope I have the real thing and not the imposter. Can you elucidate? Thanks
The chufa nuts I’ve grown are about a half inch to an inch in length – roughly the size of large dried peas. The picture of Baker Creeks website do look like chufa nuts.
Good luck with your crop!
hi I was observing that Wild tukey who love Chufa will did up the seed if the find it before it sprouts to eat it but leaves it alone it makes it to sprouting. I am sure the seed has breaking down as it sprouts but would have thought it would still be intack enough to entice the turkeys to still attept to did them up. (I am glad they ceasethe destruction but was wondering ig you know why)
I would imagine sprouted chufa isn’t as sweet and that there are better tasting things to eat.
Just finished picking and sorting through half of the ones that we harvested. I didn’t realize how hairy they are. The sifting and sorting seems to have got rid of most of it though.
We had fun sorting through the dirt. Just when we though we got them all, there were another 10-15! Fun.
They taste great – will be growing these again next year.
I have been planting chufa nuts every summer for about 7 years now in Michigan and i love it. I always find it hard to save some for the next planting season cos it’s so tasty and i’m tempted to eat it all. i just wish it was sold in stores here in the u.s.
For the first time, two of my chufa plants produced seeds after flowering and i was wondering if these will sprout just like the tuber if i plant it next summer?
I would imagine your chufa seeds should germinate. Next year, it might be worth growing the chufa from seed in a separate plot from your chufa from tuber. That way you’ll see if there are any differences between the two. Especially whether the seeds might overwinter and potentially become a weed problem.
I’d love to hear about your results.
We are a traditional Spanish exporter of seed chufa for planting since 1987
please see our web page http://www.chufas.net .Barcelona tel 0034934175322
SO GLAD to run into this site, since i’ve been trying to locate a source for small sample-size seed lots. That’s for myself and others, because i’m writing a garden book for Chelsea Green publishers, part of which features little-known and under-appreciated crops with human food potential (as opposed to wild turkeys, which seems to be the whole focus in SE US). I tried them many yrs ago and was well-impressed but never followed up. Have you ever tried that milky beverage the Spaniards make?
I have tried a homemade version of Horchata de Chufa but I wasn’t able to grind the nuts as finely as I imagine they do in Spain. It was OK but a bit of sugar and cinnamon go along way for most beverages!
I look forward to reading your garden book,
I regularly make horchata from chufa nuts and the key is to strain through a very fine mesh sieve (or cheese cloth) after blending in water. You don’t need to grind too much.
Here is what I do:
I use about 1 litre of water for 250ml of dried chufa nuts, plus half a cinnamon stick and a half teaspoon of lemon zest.
I blend in 2 separate batches in a regular blender for a couple of minutes per batch and then strain a couple of times and add 3-4 TBSP sugar (you can adjust sweetness as you like).
I then refrigerate the horchata for an hour or so in a mason jar, give it a good shake, and serve.
It does not keep, but then again, there never is anything left over.
P.S. I can’t wait to try growing chufas this summer! Thanks for the great description.
Thanks for the great horchata directions.
I look forward to the 2012 harvest in the fall to give it another try!
Good luck with your chufa growing,
Seed World USA now carries Chufa / Tiger Nut Seeds please visit:
Hi Daniel, Since your last visit here, we had an nice crop of fair-sized chufas, and are using them in various ways, my favourite being to grind and sift into a fine meal which i mix with four times as much cornmeal for an elegant-flavoured porridge. I’ve written an article for the MOFGA (MeOrgFarmGardenAssoc) newspaper about growing them, and thence my question: though i took some great photos of them at harvest, i cannot lay my hands on those at the moment and deadline is around the corner. What i’m asking is that if they don’t turn up in time, might i use yours, such as the one on your site – with you duly credited, of course?
Funny, we actually had our worst chufa year last year! I think the drought slowed down their sizing up. I’m hoping to set up some irrigation on the crop next year in case we have another drought.
I would be happy for you to use my pictures and credit them.
We really loved our visit to your place. I’ve been hoping to get a bit of free time to post a brief synopsis of our visit.
Many thanks, Dan. And thanks to the others who have listed themselves as sources; i’ll include them in the source reference with my article. Should i also list Tournesol, or will you have a supply to offer? For now… Wil
Please list as a Canadian supply. We will have a larger volume this coming year!
I found my photos, so i’ll not need yours, but thanks. And yes i’ll include that caveat in your source reference. My Chufa article will appear in the upcoming issue of the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener, which can be accessed on-line; just Google MOFGA and they’ll walk you to it.
Hi, just a question I can’t find the answer to. You say to make sure it isn’t yellow nutsedge, what is the danger of that plant? Is it poisonous or edible? I purchased some chufa nuts, but they aren’t as big as the penny as you show in your picture so I am now concerned.
Yellow nutsedge is a perennial weed that spreads through rhizomes, seeds, and tubers. It is quite invasive and can be hard to eliminate when it gets a foothold.
In warm climates without harsh winters, chufa probably behaves similarly. However with our severe freezes, chufa doesn’t survive the winter. As such it isn’t invasive.
Chufa can be smaller than a penny. It depends on the weather, irrigation, and fertility.
If you have doubts about whether you have chufa or yellow mnutsedge, you should contact the person you received the tubers from and ask them about.
I fully concur with all of Dan’s comments. Smaller tuber size doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not chufa, just that they haven’t been as highly cultured or selected. Yellow nutsedge is not toxic, merely persistent to the point of being invasive, at least further south. I question whether either type is of concern in places like Maine or Quebec, certainly not chufa.
I worked on effect of tuber sizes and irrigation frequency on growth and yield of Tigernut in my under graduate project the results is superb
I’m excited to hear about your results. This year we are growing some Chufa with drip irrigation. I’m excited to see what happens!
Thanks for sharing,
Cool! Thanks so much for the details and description! Does yellow nutsedge produce seeds like chufa as well and are they edible? Looking forward to my first chufa-dig this autumn.
Chufa does not produce a seed, only a tuber. Yellow nutsedge produces seeds and tubers – the tubers are also edible!
Do you know if it tastes as good as chufa allegedly does?
I have not eaten much yellow nutsedge but in my limited experience they are quite similar.
Usually smaller though.
The best way to make a drink out of it is to soak the dried nut until rehydrate, then u blend alongside coconut .sieve .add sugar or honey .serve chilled. It’s lovely.if not taken after a few hours.it ferments. Its taken mostly in Northern Nigeria . And it’s also an aphrodisiac.
Thanks for the recipe!
I am from Macedonia and I would like to plant a Chufa at my backyard. Can you please help me how or where I can find quality seed to start ?
I was looking for some chufa on alixpress web but I am not sure if I plant those seeds am I going to succed to grow after
I don’t know much about different Chufa suppliers and the quality of their seed. You could e-mail the supplier and ask them whether the Chufa they offer can be planted.
I am looking to purchase Chufa nut seeds? Can anyone help me out with a trusted source to order them from?
I stay in South Africa
We can’t ship Chufa out of Canada. There are probably some suppliers closer to South Africa than we are!
Hi Stuart Bigmore,
You can get any quantity of Chufa nut seeds in large quantity from Nigeria. kindly contact us.
We have chufas of various varieties for sell.. pls kindly check us at http://www.newhavenassociatesintl.com….
Do you think that sun dried tiger nuts could be grown? I found this local product and would be interested in growing it. http://organicgemini.com/products/raw-sundried-tigernuts
To get sun dried tiger nuts, you’ll have to first grow the fresh tiger nuts as described in the blog post above. Then you’ll have to sun dry them.
We dry our chufa indoors because we have a lot of precipitation. But if you’re in a dryer climate, I’m sure you can grow them outside.
Horchata is delicious! It should not be lumpy. But you can’t just strain through a strainer. The best thing to use is a nut bag (similar to a coffee filter level of fine-ness, but is cloth and, of course, a bag. (You can get the on Amazon fairly inexpensively, and you can re-use it again and again). Once I discovered this, I started making horchata far more often b/c it’s so much easier and effective. So after you soak the chufas with a cinnamon stick and blend it all up, you then pour it through the nut bag, then squeeze the life out of the pulp inside. Get us much juice out as you can. Then you add some sugar to taste. A great way to serve it is to put it in a big jar in your freezer, and shake it every half an hour for a couple of hours until it gets slushy. This was how they served it when it was in Spain. It’s delightful. So definitely try it again! It’s a nice refresher on a hot day, or a dessert that is mildly sweet, but fairly light on the whole. It’s fine to drink as milk too. I just think the slushy version is really where it shines! And I’m sure it’s even better when you grow the chufas yourself!
Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll give Horchata a try again sometime.
Just found out (today!) that “the weed we could never get rid of”, in Pasadena, CA is actually an edible tuber! My goodness, that excited me. I’m trying to get my brother to send me some as well as ordered a few tubers from a fellow on eBay. Weeds that are healthy and nutritious for you… I like growing everywhere! 😀 Like Dandelions!
Jared, there is also an edible weed called Pursloin that is supposedly a superfood! The weed has plagued my yard at two different houses (in New England), and I just learned you eat it in salads or a green smoothie (if you’re into those). It tastes pretty good too. You can also cook it, though I haven’t done that. Google it and look for pics. If you have it, you’ll definitely recognize it! (But I’d much rather have chufas and make horchata!)
Purselane. I let it grow wherever it wants. Just like dandelion. It’s edible, it can stay. I have arugula and lettuce growing everywhere, too. Scattered. Haven’t tried Purselane, but may do so eventually. 😀
Hallo there. I would like to plant tiger nuts commercially. I am in Africa and am enquiring where I can get seeds to plant on 100 acre piece of land. Where can I get the market and finally I need training on planting through to harvest. Thanks in advance.
Unfortunately we only grow a few dozen plants every year! We have no experience on the scale you’re describing. Good luck though!
Hi, I have grown tiger nuts for the first time this year. I am in UK. I am going to start to harvest next week as ground frosts are forecast . My question is.. Can they be dried in a dehydrator or do they need to be dried naturally ? That is supposing that I even get a crop.
Thanks for such interesting info.
Hi Wendy, I would recommend air drying. Using a dehydrator might be fine for foodstock but it is probably too hot for any tubers you plan on reseeding next year. Happy harvesting! Dan
i grown tiger nuts for the first time now and i harvest today.
and i would like to know the best way to keep(atleast some of them untill next time that will be able to grow (april\may?)
thanks a lot!
Spread them out to dry for a few weeks. Keep a fan on them for the first week or so.
Afterwards store them in a dry area. They store quite well.
thanks for the quick answer 🙂
i try to do it before with some of the tiger nuts that i buy, but they become really dry and hard(they not eatable anymore) i stored them something like 4 months
here a picture of them:
thanks a lot ! 🙂
Dried Chufa nuts are quite hard. If you want to eat them fresh, you can soak them in water to rehydrate them.
Thank you for the growing instructions, I am going to try it this year.
Btw, I bake cookies with tigernut flour and they are delicious!
Looking for chufa seeds in eastern ontario pls advise
You can order Chufa from our webstore: https://boutique.fermetournesol.qc.ca/products/cy101 . It will do fine in Eastern Ontario. In fact we are only 15 minutes from the Ontario border.
Do you guys have any experience with Yellow Nut Sedge? I have it growing naturally anywhere there’s a wet spot on my farm and thought that this is what “Chufa” is. Maybe not? Anyhow the idea of the Masonuba Fukuoka- esque do-nothing Food Forest cropping appeals to me greatly, and I thought I’d excourage it.
Yellow Nut Sedge is incredibly invasive. I wouldn’t encourage it anywhere that I wanted to have a garden in the future. Yellow nutsedge takes quite a lot of work to control.
Unlike yellow nutsedge, Chufa is winterkilled in Northern climates and makes it easy to treat it as an annual crop. This would make it less than ideal for a Fukuoka style garden though.