TIGER NUTMILK: A HEALTHY SOFT DRINK
Traditionally, it has been considered as a simple soft drink. However, the tigernut milk - even more than delicious – is a healthy drink with plenty of nutrients, which turns it into a nourishing and energetic product recommended by experts for drinking it at any season of the year, and specially in summer when we are exposed to a bigger amount of use.
“Rich in calcium, fresh, avoids flatulencies, strengthen the entrails, eases colics off, causes the urine and the menstruation and it is beneficial against vertigo and headaches, it is used in mouth and gum ulcers for mouthwashes”. That was said by Dr. Pío Font in his book Spanish Flora published in the middle XIX century. Nowadays, this drink it is not appreciated as a medicinal food but experts in nutrition recommend it because of its nutritional values and its refreshing power as opposed to the wear and tear of the summer.
MORE THAN A SOFT DRINK
Tiger nut milk is not more than a soft drink for a lot of people but actually it is much more than that. It is a very rich source of nutrients emphasizing vitamins C and E, and minerals as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron ore, even more as starch, not saturated fats, proteins and some enzymes which help the digestion. Actually, this drink contains more iron ore, magnesium and carbohydrates than the normal milk. It has also the advantage of neither containing any lactose, sugar or proteins of the milk, nor cholesterol. That is the reason why experts consider it a nutritive and energetic product.
One of them, a professor of Microbiology in the Universitat Politècnica de València, Enrique Hernández, stands out the curative and antioxidant properties of that what some people call “vegetable milk”. This professor remarks that the vitamin E that the tigernut milk contains reduces the harmful effects of the “bad cholesterol” (LDL) produced in our organism, and explains that its nutritive value is owing to the amount of oleic acid present in its composition. He says “it’s pretty bigger than the olive oil’s one” and also says that it’s a product “recommendable for diabetics” and “ideal for children, old people and sportsmen”.
HOW IS IT MADE?
The tigernut milk elaboration starts washing the tigernuts, a tuber with an Egyptian origin very singular for its weather and land needs, conditions which, in Spain only exist in the Valencian region named L’Horta Nord.
Once they are washed, they have to be soaked by 8 hours and then, they are grinded. During the process some water is added, in a ratio of 3 litres of water for each kilo of tigernuts and the mixture is left to macerate. When the proper time is spent, it is pressed and sifted and then, the amount of sugar, cinnamon, and lemon peel wished are added and after the mixture is seeped again. Once this is done, it is just needed to cool down the mixture. By this way is obtained a liquid tigernut milk or an iced one, depending of the temperature to which the mixture has been subjected during the process. And now it is ready to serve.
TASTE OF TIGER NUT MILK
Each time is easier to find tigernut milk at any season of the year although it is specially in summer when the supermarket’s stands are full of different kinds of packages that are manufactured, recognized and certified by the Regulator Council of the Origin Denomination of Valencian Tigernut.
That Council says that we can find in the supermarket:
-Natural tigernut milk: It is the one prepared with the right amount of tigernuts, water and sugar to get a product with at least 12% of soluble solids, 2’2% of starch, 2’5 of fats, 6’3 de pH and less than 10% of sugar in form of sucrose.
- Pasteurized natural tigernut milk: is the one submitted to a treatment of pasteurization below 72ºC, with no adding any additives or technologic fertilizers. Its composition is the same as the first one.
- Sterilized tigernut milk: is the one obtained by submitting the tigernut milk into a technological process which transforms or eliminates totally or partially its contents of starch. It also must be processed after its packaging with a thermal treatment which ensures the destruction of microorganisms and the inactivity of its forms of resistance.
- UHT tigernut milk: is the one submitted to a process for eliminating the starch and processed by a thermal treatment UHT which ensures, after its aseptic packaging, the destruction of any microorganisms and any of its forms of resistance.
- Concentrate tigernut milk: is the one with the appropriate proportions of tigernut, water and sugar to obtain a product with, at least, a concentration of dissolver solids of 42% and a 6 pH, which by dissolution with water permits to obtain a product with the same characteristics than the natural tigernut milk.
- Condensed tigernut milk: it can be pasteurized (with at least 60% of dissolver solids, 4’2 of starch and 5’4 of fats) or frozen (at least 50% of dissolver solids, 5’4 of starch and 7’2 of fats).
- Powdered tigernut milk: is the one submitted into a technological process which can eliminate or transform – totally or partially – its contents of starch in form of particles or solid granulates, and it is obtained through a drying process with a less than 5% content of water. Look at the label carefully and make sure that you buy a suitable product for you. If you choose the natural one, remember that you have to drink it within 2 or 3 days and once opened the package always has to be kept in the fridge.
A digestive drink
Tigernut milk is a healthy and nourishing drink, recommendable for children and adults. Sugar free tigernut milk is recommended for those who have a delicate stomach, heavy digestions, flatulence or diarrhoea. But, obviously, the one with added sugar is not recommended for those who suffer diabetes or any other ailment in which sugar has to be controlled.
It is not just made of tigernut
Even though in our country the most popular milk, excluding the cow one, is the one made of tigernut, there are other made of almonds, coconut or rice. The one made of almond or rice is made in the same way as the one made of tigernut. In the case of the coconut, it is boiled and then water, milk and sugar are added. Each of them provides the nutrients of each fruit.
A curious story
Once upon a time the king Jaume I of Cataluña and Aragón arrived to Valencia and a little girl offered him a fresh, white and sweet drink. Pleased for its taste the king asked the name of the drink and the girl answered that it was tigernut milk. But Jaume I corrected her saying “Açò no és llet. Açò és or, xata” (This is not milk. This is gold, babe). It is said in Valencia that the name of the drink (orxata in Spanish) comes from that.
Sara Muñoz Discovery Health Magazine, nº52
Available languages: Spanish