How to make horchata (Valencian style, with tiger nuts)

Home made horchata / horchata casera
Home made horchata

I bought half a kilo of tiger nuts a couple weeks ago, to make my own horchata. This is my first attempt, following the recipe from El Invitado de Invierno, one of my favourite blogs 😃

Since I only have 500gr of nuts and I want to experiment with a few recipes, I’m making small batches. To brew larger quantities, add more tigernuts, but make sure to respect the proportions… and also make sure the containers you use are big enough!

Ingredients

  • 125 grams of tiger nuts
  • 500 ml of water
  • zest of 1/4 of lemon
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation

  1. Wash the nuts until the water runs clean, then place them on a container and cover with water. Place the container in the fridge to avoid them fermenting. Leave overnight or at least 12 hours. This is to rehydrate the nuts.

    Soaking tigernuts
    Soaking tigernuts
  2. Once they are rehydrated, they’ll look more “plump”, as you can see in this image where there’s a dry nut on the left and a hydrated one on the right:

    Dehydrated versus hydrated tiger nut
    Dehydrated versus hydrated tiger nut
  3. Remove any weird looking nut (there were a couple of floating ones, which looked suspicious to me), and drain the water. Put the nuts on the blender glass, measure 500ml of water in a jug and add a bit of that water to the blender glass to make blending easier:

    Tiger nuts ready to be blended and puréed
    Tiger nuts ready to be blended and puréed
  4. Also zest the lemon, and add the zest to the blending glass, plus the cinnamon:

    Zesting a lemon
    Zesting a lemon
  5. Blend until it becomes a really fine paste (like… I don’t know… hummus?)
    Blended tiger nuts
    Blended tiger nuts

    As soon as you start blending, it starts smelling beautifully… it’s that fine fragrance of horchata! (And you get super excited, but have to contain yourself and persist in your quest…)

  6. Then add the rest of the water from the jug, and keep blending so as to mix it all together (and just in case there are any leftover lumps stuck to the blender glass)

    Horchata before straining
    Horchata before straining
  7. It’s time to strain and “milk” this mix! Place a cheesecloth on the top of the jar or container for the horchata:

    Ready to strain!
    Ready to strain!
  8. Holding the cloth with your hands, tip the mix into the jar:
    Straining tiger nuts
    Straining tiger nuts

    It’s important to hold the cloth because the paste can be quite heavy, and if you don’t, the whole thing will collapse and end up inside the jar 😜

  9. When you finish tipping all the liquid into the jar, it’s time to milk the cloth. Carefully squeeze the cloth with your hand (still holding the top with your other hand) to get as much liquid as possible into the jar . I insist you do this carefully because it’s too easy to get spurts out of the cloth and you’ll end up with way less horchata than you expected, which is not good.You’ll know you’re done when the paste is very dry and nothing drips from it:
    Strained tiger nuts paste
    Strained tiger nuts paste

    Congratulations! You have made horchata!

  10. You might notice there’s a bit of sediment forming already:
    Horchata sediment
    Horchata sediment

    This is the reason that commercial horchata is kept in machines that continuously stir it, so it doesn’t separate. I guess because it’s basically a miraculous suspension of blended fiber and a little oils or whatever, and it doesn’t really bind with water… but for our purposes it’ll be enough to stir it with a spoon before serving 😇

  11. Now, put that horchata jar on the fridge and wait until it’s cool enough to consume. I know, it’s hard to resist—it smells so nice already! But it gets so much better when cold.
  12. You could have it “as is”, but we felt it could do with a touch of sugar, to make it into more of a dessert. We added half a teaspoon of sugar per glass before serving (about 250ml), which is about 2 grams of sugar.  Maybe we should have added the sugar when blending, but it dissolved well enough because it was caster sugar.

Thoughts after horchata batch #1

This was excellent! Way easier than I thought (I was sceptical that my blender would be able to blend finely enough), and very tasty. This was consumed super quickly, perhaps aided by this heatwave we’ve been experiencing as of late.

I used a cheesecloth but in theory you can use any sort of “filtering device” that you can also squeeze later to extract as much liquid as possible. For example, a traditional “sock-style” filter like the ones they use in Singapore to make tea.

Also in the spirit of zero waste, I did not throw away the dry paste. I put it on a tray in the oven at a low temperature during about 2 hours, stirring it from time to time, to accelerate it drying out, then stored it in an airproof container. And I have not done it yet, but I want to experiment making some oats and tiger nut flour “digestives”. Talk about fusion cuisine 😎

Compared to the commercial horchata I had in the fridge, mine is incredibly low in sugar, as that one has 14 g per 100 ml, so 35 grams in 250ml!!!?? I’m never drinking that again! To be fair, the regulations say commercial horchata should have 100 to 150 grams per litre, but that still sounds like a lot to me. There seems to be an allowance for using non-sucrose based sugars but there still needs to be a 10% of sucrose sugars.

Also, I am not quite sure about the added lemon and cinnamon. I think for the next batch I’ll not add them, and see how it fares. Someone on the comments for the recipe mentions that it is not part of the traditional recipe, which explains why I was feeling like it was a bit weird to add those, and of course we want to be traditional and authentic here 😝

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