The future is here, and it’s characterised by a nut milk that’s not even made from nuts. Introducing Madame Tiger: a new Melbourne-made, plant-based milk range made from tiger nuts, a nutrient-dense tuber with a purported aphrodisiacal twist. Sustainable, nutritious and ethically sourced, Madame Tiger’s products are doing a roaring trade in cafés, and they’re also making their way into more and more health food stores and premium grocers across the country. Here’s founder Laura Hindson with the lowdown on the milk of tomorrow.
Give us the elevator pitch, what is Madame Tiger nut milk?
Tiger nut milk is milk made from tiger nuts. Tiger nuts, strangely enough, are not actually nuts. They’re powerful little nutrient-dense root vegetables, or tubers. Tiger nuts only need rainwater to grow, making them a super-sustainable ingredient for plant-based milk.
My partner Yac’s Malian-born father first introduced us to tiger nuts. It started with us watching a documentary entitled Tigernut, Homeland of the Wholehearted Women, which was featured at the African Film Festival in Auckland. I got in touch with the filmmaker and started talking about all things tiger nuts and fair trade. It turned out his wife was involved in a charity supporting the female farming collective, Mousso Faso, and together we shared a fierce passion and determination to see these women and their families succeed. So we purchased their first harvest of tiger nuts and started developing a tiger nut milk recipe.
Who are you and what are you all about?
I’m Laura, a self-proclaimed good home cook and food tinkerer. I spent most of my career in food marketing working on Australia’s favourite chocolate biscuit (can you guess it?), a famous kombucha brand and a few other things in between.
I founded Madame Tiger about three-and-a-half years ago, after having our twins, Mali and Kenza. We started off buying Mousso Faso’s first harvest of tiger nuts, which was six tonnes, so I pretty quickly needed to figure out something to do with them. When I started working on the tiger nut milk recipe, I came at it from the lens of a home cook rather than a food developer, avoiding ingredients like industrial seed oils, gums, emulsifiers, and additives.
The recipe was developed in a home kitchen and when you look through the ingredients, you’ll appreciate the simplicity.
After three years of behind-the-scenes blood, sweat and tears, we were ready to launch our tiger nut milk after setting up our tiger nut milk manufacturing facility in the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne, affectionately named The Tiger Factory by our kids.
Explain like we’re five, how do you make it?
We start by soaking the tiger nuts to soften and rehydrate them, and we then wash them and put them through a giant crusher or grinder with water. After the tiger nuts are ground down into a milky liquid, we filter out the fibre to get smooth, creamy tiger nut milk.
Then we blend it with Australian extra virgin olive oil, fava bean protein grown and processed in Horsham, a little bit of Demerara sugar, which is less refined, a blend of calcium and vitamins to match the vitamins and minerals in full cream cow’s milk and a pinch of sea salt.
The Barista Tiger Nut Milk and the Original Tiger Nut Milk have all the same ingredients, just different proportions. The original milk was developed to be a suitable replacement for cow’s milk for children under two, so it has a lot more protein than the barista milk. The Barista Tiger Nut Milk has more of a subtle creamy taste designed to complement coffee.
So no actual milking of tigers?
Heck no! Being vegan and all, our milk has absolutely nothing to do with real-life tigers. I’m not even sure how one would do that!
Tiger nuts get their name because they look like nuts, they kind of taste like nuts, and they have a stripy tiger-like exterior.
What excites you about this project?
It’s really different and people love hearing our story. It’s been super scary, but incredibly exciting to start something like this from scratch. I’ve had no choice but to force myself into learning new things like product development and food manufacturing and have really surprised myself as to how much I enjoy it.
People, for the most part, haven’t heard of tiger nuts, so it’s great to be introducing something truly unique to the market and doing it in a way that is seriously sustainable and with nutritious ingredients.
What are the perfect conditions to enjoy Madame Tiger?
Our Barista Tiger Nut Milk really does pair purrfectly with coffee (pardon the pun). I’ve tried incredibly hard to find the right balance of tasting a hint of something unique, being the tiger nuts, but achieving a mostly neutral, sweet, creamy taste that complements coffee.
The Original Tiger Nut Milk is great in smoothies; it makes them extra creamy. Pour a whisker on your muesli, or if you’re a real hardcore plant-milk enthusiast, then go for a straight-up glass.
Tiger nuts are also an aphrodisiac, so we are told, so start with these suggestions and go where your heart takes you.
Is it here for a good time or a long time?
Most definitely here for a good time and a long time. We are a small family-run business from the Mornington Peninsula and because of our sustainability creds, we deserve to be around for the long haul. As people are moving towards more sustainable food and drink that use better quality ingredients, hopefully they’ll be interested in supporting brands like ours.
We started off buying Mousso Faso, the female-led farming collective’s first harvest in 2020. At the time it seemed a little crazy, a big leap of faith, but our partnership with the collective has given them the confidence to grow their harvest by more than double each year since. Hopefully, we’re here for a long time so they can continue to grow with us.
Where can I buy it?
Our tiger nut milk is popping up at cafés, health food stores and premium independent grocers. As we grow, we keep our stockist list updated here. You can also buy our tiger nut milk online from our website.