Chufa ( Cyperus esculentus), also known as Nutgrass is not a grass at all but is a member of the Sedge family. I'll never forget the rhyme that helps me remember and helps me teach others how to differentiate between three narrow leaved lookalikes; "Rushes have ridges, Sedges have edges and Grasses are all round". The "edges" in this rhyme refer to the triangular shaped stem of Sedges.
I learned about Nutgrass or Chufa many years ago but never had much luck in the wild finding the"nuts". Than I came across the seeds in an Ethnobotanical seed catalog and decided to put them in the garden to see what would happen. Well, what happened is, they took over a large section of my garden! I have since learned that they are considered a noxious "weed" in many parts of the country as they are very aggressive multipliers. I suggest if you decide to plant them you put them in a raised bed to tame their aggressiveness.
Even though they have gone crazy in my garden, I don't regret planting them. They are one of my favorite tasting wild edibles. The Tubers are the "nut" part that you eat. Even though they are relatively small and not that easy to harvest, they are so good, it is worth it. They are sweet, succulent and taste like Almonds to me, maybe that's why another common name is Earth Almond.
As with most root crops, it is best to harvest the Tubers after the plant dies back for the winter and you can continue to harvest them till they start growing again in the spring. Harvesting is a bit tedious so I will go through the steps I have come up with through trial and error.
|Chufa mixed with Rocks and Debris on screen|
|Debris Floating on Top|
|Clear Water with Chufa and Rocks|
I noticed that the Chufa were more dense than water but not as dense as he rocks and sand in the jar. So to get the Chufa to float but not the rocks I needed to increase the Density of the water just enough to get the Chufa to float and leave the Rocks behind. The easiest and cheapest way to do this was to add salt to the water. I began adding salt to the water and as I added more salt the Chufa began to float.
|Chufa Nuts Floating On Surface of Water|
|Cleaned Chufa Nuts Ready to Eat|
Chufa is also famous as a food for Wild Turkeys and Ducks. It is often planted by hunting clubs to attract Wild Turkeys to an area.