Ceratonia siliqua, commonly known as the carob tree, St John's-bread, or locust bean, or simply locust-tree, is a species of flowering evergreen shrub or tree in the pea family, Fabaceae.
Nutrition Facts / Carob Tree
Amount Per 1 tbsp (6 g)
Calories 13 % Daily Value*
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 50 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 5 g 1%
Dietary fiber 2.4 g 9%
Sugar 2.9 g
Protein 0.3 g 0%
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Vitamin D 0%
Vitamin B-6 0%
Vitamin B-12 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
History of the Carob tree
Ceratonia siliqua, commonly known as the carob tree (from Arabic and Hebrew), St John's-bread, or locust bean (not to be confused with the African locust bean), or simply locust-tree, is a species of flowering evergreen shrub or tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is widely cultivated for its edible pods, and as an ornamental tree in gardens. The ripe, dried pod is often ground to carob powder, which is used to replace cocoa powder. Carob bars, an alternative to chocolate bars, are often available in health-food stores.
The carob tree is native to the Mediterranean region, including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the larger Mediterranean islands, the Levant andMiddle-East of Western Asia into Iran; and the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. The carat, a unit of mass for gemstones, and of purity for gold, takes its name, indirectly, from the Greek word for a carob seed, kerátion.
Chocolate chip cookies with carob powder instead of cocoa powder
Carob beetroot vegan cake with agar bunnies
Carob consumed by humans is the dried (and sometimes roasted) pod. The pod consists of two main parts: the pulp accounts for 90% and the seeds for 10% of the pod weight. Carob is mildly sweet and is used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as a substitute for chocolate. Carob bars are widely available in health food stores. A traditional sweet, eaten during Lent and Good Friday, is also made from carob pods in Malta. Dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat.
While chocolate contains levels of theobromine which are toxic to some mammals, carob contains absolutely no caffeine and no theobromine, so is used to make chocolate-flavored treats for dogs. Carob pod meal is used as an energy-rich feed for livestock, particularly for ruminants, though its high tannin content may limit its use. Carob pods were mainly used as animal fodder in the Maltese Islands, apart from times of famine or war when they formed part of the diet of many Maltese. In the Iberian Peninsula, carob pods were used to feed donkeys.
The pulp is about 48–56% sugars and 18% cellulose and hemicellulose. Some differences in sugar content are seen between wild and cultivated types: sucrose = about 531 g/kg dry weight in cultivated varieties and about 437 g/kg in wild varieties. Fructose and glucose levels do not differ between cultivated and wild carob. Carob pulp is sold as flour or chunks. The production of locust bean gum (LBG), used in the food industry, is the economically most important use of carob seeds (and nowadays of the carob as a whole). It is produced from the endosperm, which accounts for 42–46% of the seed and is rich in galactomannans (88% of endosperm dry mass). For 1 kg LBG, 3 kg of kernels are needed which come from around 30 kg carob tree fruit. Galactomannans are hydrophilic and swell in water. LBG is used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, gelling agent, or as a substitute for gluten in low-calorie products. If galactomannans are mixed with other gelling substances such as carrageenan, they can be used to thicken food. This is used extensively in canned food for animals to get the jellied texture.
The embryo (20-25% of the seed's weight) is rich in proteins (50%) and its flour can be used in human and animal nutrition. The testa (30–33% of the seed's weight) is the seed coat and consists of cellulose, lignin, and tannin.
Syrup, drinks, Maltese carob liqueur
In Cyprus, carob syrup is known as Cyprus's black gold and is widely exported. In Malta, a syrup is made out of carob pods. This is a traditional medicine for coughs and sore throat. Carob syrup is also used in Crete as a natural sweetener and is considered a natural source of calcium. It contains three times more calcium than milk. It is also rich in iron, phosphorus, and natural fibers (Due to its strong taste, it can be found mixed with orange or chocolate). Carob juice drinks are traditionally drunk during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Crushed pods may be used to make a beverage; compote, liqueur, and syrup are made from carob in Turkey, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Sicily. Several studies suggest that carob may aid in treating diarrhea in infants. In Libya, carob syrup (there called rub) is used as a complement to asida. The so-called carob syrup made in Peru is actually from the fruit of the Prosopis nigra tree.
Cultivation and orchard management
The vegetative propagation of carob is restricted due to its low adventitious rooting potential, which could be improved by using better grafting techniques, such as air layering. Therefore, seeds are still widely used as the propagation medium. The sowing occurs in pot nurseries in early spring and the cooling- and drying-sensitive seedlings are then transplanted to the field in the next year after the last frost. Carob trees enter slowly into the production phase. Where in areas with good growing conditions, the cropping starts 3–4 years after budding, the nonbearing period can take up to 8 years in regions with marginal soils. The full bearing of the trees occurs mostly at a tree-age of 20–25 years where the yield stabilizes. The orchards are traditionally planted in low densities around 25–45 trees/hectare. Hermaphrodite plants or male trees, which produce no or fewer pods, respectively, are usually planted in lower densities in the orchards as pollenizers.
Intercropping with other tree species is widely spread. Not much cultivation management is required. Only light pruning and occasional tilling to reduce weeds is necessary. Nitrogen-fertilizing of the plants has been shown to have positive impacts on yield performance. Although it is native to moderately dry climates, two or three summers irrigation greatly aid the development, hasten the fruiting, and increase the yield of a carob tree.
Harvest and postharvest treatment
The most labour-intensive part of carob cultivation is harvesting, which is often done by knocking the fruit down with a long stick and gathering them together with the help of laid-out nets. This is a delicate task because the trees are flowering at the same time and care has to be taken not to damage the flowers and the next year's crop. The literature recommends research to get the fruit to ripen more uniformly or also for cultivars which can be mechanically harvested (by shaking).
After harvest, carob pods have a moisture content of 10–20% and should be dried down to a moisture content of 8% so the pods do not rot. Further processing separates the kernels (seeds) from the pulp. This process is called kibbling and results in seeds and pieces of carob pods (kibbles). Processing of the pulp includes grinding for animal feed production or roasting and milling for the human food industry. The seeds have to be peeled which happens with acid or through roasting. Then the endosperm and the embryo are separated for the different uses.
Etymology and history
The word carob comes from Middle French carobe (modern French caroube), which borrowed it from Arabic (kharrūb, "locust bean pod"), ultimately perhaps from Akkadian language Khar Ubu or Aramaic Kha rub ha, related to Hebrew harubh. Ceratonia siliqua, the scientific name of the carob tree, derives from the Greek kerátiοn fruit of the carob (from keras 'horn'), and Latin siliqua 'pod, carob'.
The unit "carat", used for weighing precious metal and stones, as alluding to an ancient practice of weighing gold and gemstones against the seeds of the carob tree by people in the Middle East. The system was eventually standardized, and one carat was fixed at 0.2 grams. Carob was eaten in Ancient Egypt. It was also a common sweetener and was used in the hieroglyph for "sweet" ( nedjem).
In late Roman times, the pure gold coin known as the solidus weighed 24-carat seeds (about 4.5 grams). As a result, the carat also became a measure of purity for gold. Thus, 24-carat gold means 100% pure, 12-carat gold means the alloy contains 50% gold, etc.
Subsistence on carob pods is mentioned in the Talmud: Berakhot reports that Rabbi Haninah subsisted on carob pods. It is probably also mentioned in the New Testament, in which Matthew 3:4 reports that John the Baptist subsisted on "locusts and wild honey"; the Greek word, translated as "locusts", may refer to carob pods, rather than to grasshoppers. Again, in Luke 15:16, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, when the Prodigal Son is in the field in spiritual and social poverty, he desires to eat the pods that he is feeding to the swine because he is suffering from starvation. The use of the carob during a famine is likely a result of the carob tree's resilience to the harsh climate and drought. During a famine, the swine were given carob pods so that they would not be a burden on the farmer's limited resources.
Use of the carob plant dates back to Mesopotamian culture (modern day Iraq). The carob pods were used to create juices and sweets and were highly prized for their many uses. The carob tree is mentioned frequently in texts dating back thousands of years, outlining its growth and cultivation in the Middle East and North Africa. The carob tree is mentioned with reverence in "The Epic of Gilgamesh", one of the earliest works of literature in existence.
Processing your Carob Pods
Processing your carob pods is fast and easy to do.
1. Clean your pods. No matter where you get your pods from you should always wash with a mild dish soap and very warm water. Always rinse your pods twice to make sure you have removed all soap. Set out to dry on a clean towel. Do not put in sealed container until your pods have dried completely.
2. Boil your pods for about 10 minutes.
3. Cut your pods and remove seeds. This can be done with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Be careful of the seeds, they very hard. If you slice your pods close to one side, you can pop your seeds out pretty easily.
4. Set your cut pods aside to dry. This can take up to 48 hours depending on the humidity level but usually only takes a day to dry. (If your pods aren’t completely dry before grinding you might end up with a sticky ball, which can be ground down later)
5. Use a blender, spice grinder or coffee grinder to process your pods into powder.
6. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for best results.