Speaking at The Ingredients Show in Birmingham this week, Ani de la Pida said she had always known tiger nuts as she grew up in Barcelona where horchata de chufa, is a popular traditional drink made from pressed tiger nuts.
Upon learning the nuts – in actual fact tubors that grow on the roots of a type of grass – were virtually unknown in the UK, she decided to set up The Tiger Nuts Company with her husband Chris.
The Tiger Nut Company makes consumer-facing products and suppliers tiger nuts to manufacturers. Its range includes tiger nut chocolate bars, granola and non-dairy drinks (which it markets as ‘mylk’ in order to avoid falling foul of EU law on protected dairy denominations) as well as the whole and powdered nuts.
The allergen-free tubors contain 30% fibre and so are beneficial to gut health by acting as a prebiotic ‘food’ good gut bacteria, helping to crowd out the bad bacteria and repopulate the microflora, de la Pida said.
“They are so nutritionally dense I think they are going to be a really useful addition for people manufacturing products such as breads, pastas and cakes. They add taste as well as nutrients which is what a lot of the market is looking for now.”
A small handful also contains as much vitamin E as six avocadoes and they have a sweet, creamy taste that de la Pida likens to a blend of almonds and coconut.
She predicts they will become popular in gluten-free and standard food formulations. It performs well in baking and batters with good ‘stickability’, she said.