The Horchata: Tigernut from Valencia

Valencia is a well known place by its traditions  and its gastronomy. The city and region offer certain specialities and today we want to talk about the Horchata. The drink is the most popular in Valencia, served with ‘fartons’. Fartons are a like long and thin iced buns. Traditionally they are dunked into the horchata.

History

Old civilizations such as the Egyptians left samples of this healthy product in their tombs and sarcophagi. Also, diverse Persian and Arab authors already mentioned in their writings the digestive benefits of the chufa (tigernut). But it was in the 13th century when the Arabs introduced their crop in the Mediterranean area.Legend says that a young villager from the fertile area of Valencia known as L’Horta offered the King Jaume I a white and sweet drink. The King, very pleased, asked; What is this? and the young woman answered “Its tigernut milk. The King, having tasted the drink replied :This is not milk, this is gold , pretty girl . Legend or reality, whether you agree with King James or not, Horchata is a recognised symbol of summer, and a trip to the Valencia would be incomplete without trying at least one glass…

This drink, made from the chufa (or tigernut, a typical tuber of the Valencia region) is a refreshing and essential product in the Mediterranean diet thanks to its innumerable and healthy benefits.

Valencia was and continues to be the only area in Europe where chufa is grown. Currently it is farmed in 16 towns around the area known as L’Horta Nord (or the Northern fertile land) which surrounds Valencia.

The Horchata is More than a refreshing drink

Apart from the thirst-quenching refreshing taste of Horchata, the drink also boasts numerous health properties characteristic of the Mediterranean diet, such as its heart-healthy properties such as reducing cholesterol levels. Horchata is also low in calories and high in nutrition. It’s recommended for all age groups, and even those who are lactose intolerants, and pregnant women (it contains more iron and potassium than a single glass of milk!).

HEALTHY PROPERTIES OF THE HORCHATA OF CHUFA OF VALENCIA

  • It has no cholesterol.
  • It helps to reduce the cholesterol and the triglicerids due to its composition in greasy acids similar to the olive oil.
  • It provides essential amino acids (arginina is important).
  • It possesses a big energy value (ideal for children and sportsmen).
  • It presents excellent digestive properties for its content in soluble fiber, amino acids and starch.
  • It contains iron, zinc, copper and the same quantity of magnesium as the milk of a cow or goat.
  • It is diuretic for its high content in water.
  • It does not contain gluten, lactose not fructosa.
  • The horchata without sugar can be drunk by diabetic people.
  • It is ideal for hypertense people due to its low content in sodium and absence of caffeine.
  • It is advisable for the prevention of the arteriosclerosis and the renal insufficiencies.

Discovering Valencia  want to share with you the original recipe:

Ingredients

  • 250 g of tigernut from Valencia
  • 1 liter of water
  • 110 gr of sugar

Preparation

Wash the tigernuts from Valencia and place in a container with enough water to cover it, for 6 to 8 hours to get their rehydration. Renew water in the tank every 3 or 4 hours.

Rinse and disinfect the tigernuts by adding sodium hypochlorite to the wash water (you can use bleach for use in food) for a few minutes with intermittent agitation.

After disinfection, rinse several times to completely remove the sodium hypochlorite. 

Crush the tigernut with a fraction of very cold water (1/2 liter). Sieve and pack the paste obtained in a cloth strainer.

Homogenize the residue of filtration with the remaining water, stir, press and sieve.

Add sugar in this final extract and dissolve it by stirring.

The horchata obtained should be cooled fast to temperatures of about 0C degrees. Conservate at temperatures less or equal to 2  C degrees.

Drink very cold and Buen Provecho!!!!

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