Thursday, July 11, 2013

My carob experiments

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but close to where we live there is a carob tree which produces, in season, an abundance of sweet fruit - more than we could ever eat. Personally, I consider carob pods one of nature's convenience foods, as they are very nutritious, deliciously sweet, do not result in sticky fingers, are easy to pack and carry, and keep extremely well - for months in the refrigerator without losing flavor. However, somehow, it appears we are the only family in the neighbourhood that enjoys the bounty of the carob tree.

Last summer, we sat in the delicious shade of the tree many times, watching over our goats and munching on carob pods straight from the branch. The goats munched on the pods that had fallen down, and as the season progressed, there were more and more of those - a pity, I observed, but we were eating all we could anyway. 

This time, inspired by some websites, I decided to try and grind my own carob flour from the pods. Yesterday, the girls and I went down to the tree, picked up an experimental batch of good-looking pods, came home with our bounty, and I proceeded to chop the pods into pieces and pry out the seeds (careful - very hard, you don't want to bite on one by mistake!) with the point of a knife. That was by far the most time-consuming part of the process; if anyone knows an easier way to get carob seeds out of the pods, do let me know. 

I then put the chopped-up pods on a baking sheet and popped them into the oven on a low setting to dry. I only did it for one hour, and I think I should have given them more time - overnight would probably be ideal - because my end result was rather stickier than I aimed, and not the dusty, powdery flour I envisioned. 

Anyway, when the pod-parts were dried, I put them into my coffee grinder and transferred the ready flour into a jar. 

It is rather coarse, as you can see, and has some chunks; however, it works well in baking - once I obtained the flour, the road was short to making a delicious and nutritious snack of carob brownies, substituting the cocoa for (chunky) carob powder. The powder, apart from its exquisite flavor, is also a thickener and a sweetener; so I only needed a very little white flour, and only 1 tablespoon of sugar (which can be substituted by a natural sweetener like honey or molasses, but I didn't have any on hand). Result: a snack which I have no scruples to offer as a mid-afternoon treat. 

If you have a carob tree nearby, or an alternative source of carob pods, I encourage you to try this at home! 


Diane Shiffer said...

I was thinking about you today and realized it's been way too long since I came for a visit :-) Having a wonderful time catching up with all your happenings ((hugs))

famayes said...

I never thought of using carob in place of the flour. Do you have a recipe?

Otter Mom said...

My daughter is allergic to chocolate, carob was a wonderful treat for her when she was smaller. We use it in place of cocoa in just about everything that cocoa is used in. It works wonderfully, but we have to buy it pre-powdered.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Famayes, when it comes to cookies and cakes, with me it's usually a question of consistency and flavor, rather than quantities. In other words, I'm winging it. :o) In this case I took two eggs, whisked them with some of the carob flour, added some extra virgin olive oil, a very little sugar and white flour for desired consistency, and poured it all into a baking pan.

Rose said...

Now that's something I've never used, thanks for the inspiration Anna!

Joluise said...

Interesting process, but I'm not fond of the taste of carob.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Joluise, it's of course a matter of taste! Since we love carob, and it's chock full of valuable nutrients, and it's free for the taking, it would be a pity not to use it.

Linda said...

Dear Anna,
Not knowing how big or hard carob pods I don't know if a bean sheller would handle them, but it might be worth a try. Lehmans, which sells non electric dairying and gardening equipment has a model. I would stick with the models that are all metal if you do decide to buy one.
Linda A