Tigernut (Cyperus esculentus)
This invasive sedge is an annual or perennial plant, growing to 90 cm tall, with solitary stems growing from a tuber. They tolerate many soil conditions including periods of drought and flooding. They grow best on sandy, moist soils; they are salt intolerant and not found along coasts. It may be considered a weed.
Harvest usually occurs late in the year. The leaves are scorched during the harvest. The drying occurs usually in the sun and can take up to three months, with daily turning to ensure uniform drying. Temperatures and humidity levels have to be monitored very carefully during this period to prevent rot or other bacterial infections.
Tigernut loses a considerable amount of water during drying and storage. The starch content of the tigernut tubers decreases and the reducing sugar (invert sugar) content increases during storage. Tigernut can be stored dry and rehydrated by soaking without losing the crisp texture. Soaking is usually an overnight operation and is important in the process for some foods such as legumes, grains and some vegetables.
- Its tubers were consumed either boiled in beer, roasted or as sweets made of ground tubers with honey. They were also used medicinally, taken orally, as an ointment, or as an enema.
- Used in fumigants to sweeten the smell of homes or clothing.
- Food and Livestock Fodder: Dried tigernut has a smooth tender, sweet and nutty taste. It can be consumed raw, roasted, dried, baked or as tigernut milk or oil.
- The boiled nuts are used as a fishing bait.