Φύεται κατὰ γῆς ὃ καλεῖται μαλιναθάλλη [. . .] ταῦτα συνάγοντες οί κατὰ τὴν χώραν ἔψουσιν ἐν βρυτῷ ἀπὸ τῶν κριθῶν καὶ γίνεται γλυκέα σφόδρα. χρῶνται δὲ πάντες ὥσπερ τραγήμασι.
That which is called malinthalle (tiger nut) grows under the earth [in sandy, wet places] . . . People in the countryside [Egypt] collect these things and boil them in barley beer [brutos] and it becomes very sweet. All use these just like sweet fruits.
Theophrastus provides a biological, geographic and cultural background to tiger nuts (cyperus esculentus) in this portion of his work, The Enquiry into Plants.
“Tiger nuts? Is this Charlie Sheen’s nickname for specific parts of his anatomy? Certainly, they are the biological sibling of his oft-quoted tiger blood?”
No, intrepid reader; these are real, edible sedges. In fact, this “paleo snack” (as advertised by my recently purchased package) has been eaten for non-paleo millennia in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and India and remains an occasional ingredient in the beverage, horchata. My rigorous search of the internet and brewing sites, however, has revealed only a single beer that is brewed with tiger nuts: Mountain Sun Tiger’s Nut Stout. Never tried it. But, I plan to find out its effect on the taste of barley beer. That’s right, folks. This post also serves as an announcement for the next experimental homebrew! Tune in on Wednesday to find out that age-old question: Will tiger nuts sweeten your beer?
Theophrastus (ca. 371-287 BCE)
Biologist, philosopher, and philologist: the man did it all.