Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Carob - Ceratonia siliqua

Attractive new growth of the Carob tree

Peggy from Organic Growing Pains asked if Carob has anything to do with chocolate, so here is some info.

The the pods of the fruit are cooked/roasted and ground to make a powder to use as a flavouring.
Often used as a healthy alternative to chocolate.
Those who are intolerant of chocolate will view this as an alternative.
The "chocolate" made from this contains no caffeine or theobromine (that's the stuff that makes chocolate dangerous to dogs).

I'm looking forward to processing some pods for this purpose. lol
Doc is a chocoholic and says the powder tastes nothing like chocolate. rolleyes

Either way the end product is sweet and as I cannot grow chocolate (cacao tree) in this climate will be a welcome alternative with low food miles that will grow in my own back yard!

The dense foliage of the Carob tree

Some info about the trees:
Carob - Ceratonia siliqua
Member of the Leguminosae family (but not nitrogen fixing).
A large growing tree to 10-15 metres. It is also a fire resistant tree according to The Food Forest SA Factsheet (link below)
Edible pods for humans and stock. Being high in protein and calcium. Especially useful during drought periods. The pods are often fed to stock as a sweetener with similar properties to molasses.
Foliage eaten by stock - Goat owners in town often cut low branches off the street trees in our main street (with permission).
Seeds yield a gum (locust bean gum) used as a thickener and stabiliser in many industries including: cosmetics, food and textiles.
Dense shade tree.
Drought tolerant when established due to a long taproot that searches out ground water. Will survive on an annual rainfall of 250mm but with irrigation will produce a higher yield.
Tolerant of poor soils (including saline soils) and are long lived.

Seeds and Pods of the Carob

Other uses include:
Fuel - pods are used to make an alcohol for use in fuels
Pet foods - pods are ground for dog biscuit flavouring.
A curious use for the seeds in the past was measuring gold and precious stones...each seed weighs one carat (2oomg) each.

Further information:
The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia by Louis Glowinski
Growing Carobs in Australia by H Esbenshade & G Wilson
How Can I Be Prepared With Self Sufficiency and Survival Foods by Isabell Shipard
The Food Forest SA Carob factsheet


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