Chufa is a misunderstood plant in that within Cyperus esculentus there are two broad subspecies. The first C. esculents var. sativus is one of the oldest cultivated crops, grown around the Mediterranean sea and beyond. The cultivars that I have tested from this type grow a mass of tubers underneath their sedge greenery and are killed by frost.
The second is the weed yellow nutsedge that is cursed by farmers and gardeners alike. It is also edible except it can survive frost and its tubers (from what I've seen) are neither as large nor born as densely beneath the plant. There is also purple nutsedge that grows even more down south and is a different species.
I grow the better crop though winter wimpy plant: Chufa (var. sativus), also known as cultivated Tigernut. Now that we have cleared that up.
Since I grew a lot of Chufa this year - partly for sale, partly because they are highly nutritious and taste like a cross between a sweet almond and coconut, are versatile in cooking and store well - I had a lot of processing to do in the fall. If you have ever pulled up chufa to clean, you'll know why this seems like a big task. My kids and I spent a day separating, cleaning and drying tubers. Yield compared to the lower commercial yields in Spain which made me happy. No doubt this was because of our unusually high heat units for 2016.
Here are some cultivars that I trialed. Other than ALE select (the typical Canadian variety you'll find simply as Chufa and offered by various seed savers that I have been growing out for years), Black Tigers was second in yield. It's a round variety with darker skin than most of the others. I look forward to trying them again and being able to offer several varieties in 2017.
Stay tuned to a companion post, how to process and use Chufa.
All about growing, selecting and using edible plants in the Ottawa valley.