The Tigernut from Valencia
The chufa is cultivated in sixteen Valencian towns in the L'Horta Nord area, where a few concrete climatic requirements are assembled and turns it into the only zone of Spain where so singular tuber is cultivated. About 5.3 million kilograms of tigernut are produced in this area, of which 90% are covered by the denomination of origin.
The tigernut from Valencia (Cyperus esculentus) is a herbaceous plant from 40 and 50 centimeters high. . It has a rhizome radicular system from which some little roots are found, in whose tips the tigernut is formed. These can be purchased two ways: "llargueta" (stretched) and "Armela" (rounded).
The chufa is sown from March until May, date which is determined by the previous crop. Before the plantation, a series of preparatory works of the area are carried out, so that it remains spongy, free and good levelled. The plantation is carried out in a mechanical way, in ridges of 20 cm high with 60 cm between them. The depth of plantation is from 4 to 5 cm. The thickness of sowing is an important aspect, since the yield and the quality of the tuber depend in a great part on it. This is from 10 to 12 Kg of chufa for every 831m.
The compilation is executed from November to January. Once the plant is completely withered and dried, the air part of it is burned and a cleanliness of the ashes and remains is carried out. Then, it is sown in a mechanical way. The combine harvester consists of a bar to cut of two ridges width, which cuts the soil, which in its turn is crumbled by a rods milling machine. Then it deposits it in a big sieve drum that separates the soil from the chufa. These ones come out on the rear part with rests of plants, stones, etc. Next, the chufas are transported by means of a conveyor belt to the hopper of the tractor.
As soon as the process of compilation is finished, the wash of the crop is carried out. In this process, the chufa loses its roots, its skin is washed and those which are not valid tubers are eliminated. With the spade of the tractor, the chufas are located in a hopper, which unloads them on a conveyor belt that ends in a big sieve drum, where the soil is separated from the rest of the material. Then it goes on to the second big drum formed by two concentric elements, where straw and stones are separated. A third big drum eliminates the hair of the chufas and a shower arranged in the central part is wetting them. The chufas go later to some gutters with different exits of water, where they are separated from the gravel, finishing this way its cleaning.
Dried and selecion
Once they are clean, the chufas must lose damp by means of the dried. During this process, the damp descends from 50 % to 11 %. Its duration is approximately of three months. It is carried out in "cambras" of dried, in a slow and careful way, in order to achieve that the groundnut acquires the characteristics that are inherent. The tubers get ready in layers of 10-20 cm of thickness and are stirred twice a day, so that the dried is carried out in a uniform way. Once they are dried, one proceeds to its wash and classification, in order to separate the impurities, the trumped groundnuts or those of small size. Later, a manual complementary selection is executed to eliminate the damaged tubers and some impurities that could remain. In this moment, the chufas are placed in sacks, remaining ready for the production of the horchata