Healthy Chufa Nuts – An Important Part of Valencian Agriculture

Made from chufa nuts, the Spanish drink of horchata is delicious and good for you. Filled with antioxidants, Chufa grows best in Spain around Valencia.

From the outside, it looks like an ice cream parlor or a coffee shop. But the colorful Horchata Daniel on the outskirts

Horchata Daniel

Horchata Daniel

of Valencia, Spain is well known for serving the popular Spanish drink, as it has been selling horchata to thirsty customers since 1960.

“It’s a healthy part of the diet. It’s filled with antioxidants,” said Julio Lopez, director of the Tourist Office of Spain “It’s been part of the culture of Valencia since the Middle Ages.”

When the waiter served the orders, it looked like tall glasses of frothy freezing milk. But the creamy white drink is actually a concoction of chufa or tiger nuts called horchata – pronounced or-CHA-tah. An ancient crop that reportedly was found inside tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, chufa was widely used in Egypt and Sudan thousands of years ago.

“Arabs brought the crop to Spain,” Lopez said. “It grows best around Valencia because of the climate.”

Dairy-free Horchata Good For Digestion, High in Iron and Potassium

Chufas are an important part of the agriculture in the Valencia region where 16 villages grow the tiger nuts. The dairy-free drink has high levels of iron and potassium, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It is sodium free and is said to be particularly good for those with delicate stomachs. The nuts – similar to peanuts – can be found at specialty stores and ordered over the Internet.

But don’t confuse the Valencia horchata with the Mexican one made of rice. Somewhere back in its history, the drink was craved by Spaniards who moved to the New World. Since tiger nuts weren’t grown in Mexico, rice was substituted.

In Valencia, locals like to order horchatas with a pastry called fartons and drunk the pastry into the drink. Eaten that way, the tubular sweet donuts taste somewhat like a Twinkie/Krispy Kreme combo.

Visiting King Proclaims Horchata Is Liquid Gold

According to legend, a visiting king was served the simple drink by a village girl. When asked what it was, the king was told he was enjoying chufa milk. His answer: “This is not milk. This is gold.”

The “gold” treat is tasty, healthy and easy to prepare. Try this recipe and savor the drink while thinking of warm summer evenings in Valencia.

Horchata Recipe
7 ounces chufa nuts
1 quart water
a cinnamon stick (optional)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (optional)
1 cup sugar (less if desired)

Soak chufa nuts in water for 24 hours, changing the water frequently. In a blender, grind the nuts until an even smooth mixture. Add a little water if necessary. Combine cinnamon stick, sugar, lemon and water and refrigerate for at least an hour. Strain the mix through a filter to remove larger particles.

The smooth milky liquid may be served as is or placed in the freezer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from freezing solid and served in slushy form.

About The Author

Born in the UK to an English mother and Spanish father, Amancay relocated to her father's home town of Alboraya in 2010. She moved to the centre of Valencia in 2012, where she works as a real estate agent selling properties to expats from the Northern European countries.

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