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!