Carob - Worth its Weight in Gold

The Carob/Cacao debate

In amongst the raw chocolate craze is a secret ingredient waiting to be re-discovered.
Carob is sneakily poking its head through the cacao wall and is sure to make a huge comeback. When I jumped onto the raw food bandwagon in 2004 raw cacao was virtually unknown and carob flour was solely used in desserts and smoothies to add that caramel chocolatey flavour. Once cacao hit the market carob was soon forgotten about and pushed to the back of the pantry.

However raw cacao has recently been making forum headlines for its side effects as a stimulant. People have reported feeling high after eating too much raw cacao and there have been reports of some addictive side effects and not being able to sleep. Carob on the other hand doesn't guarantee a high after eating but definitely gives you that fuzzy warm satisfied feeling one has after eating something naughty and sweet.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and raw chocolate has reached out to many people, introducing the whole concept of raw food to individuals and helping people to transition to a raw food diet. I wont deny being a raw chocolate nibbler myself at times and before falling pregnant I often ate it but it is definitely not something I would or could eat everyday. Once I fell pregnant something inside of me said I shouldn't eat raw cacao and since then I ditched the cacao and brought back the carob. Cacao is something I now only indulge in as a treat or when I am at festivals and events and when I have overindulged in raw chocolate I quite often end up with a headache. Carob flour on the other hand I can and do use almost every day without an side effects and I even feel comfortable adding it to my young children's diet without worrying about any side effects.

Why is carob such an asset?

There are many advantages to eating carob therefore if consuming raw cacao concerns you then consider replacing it with ground carob flour.

The taste of Carob pods and ground carob powder has been compared to chocolate because it is sweet, brown in colour and similar to taste however really it is quite unique in flavour, I would describe it as more of a rich caramel flavour.

Carob is naturally sweet requiring less sweetener in recipes, and unlike cacao it contains no caffeine or any other addictive substances.

Carob boasts a sufficient quantity of B vitamins, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, magnesium and trace minerals iron, manganese, chromium, copper, and nickel. It also contains approximately 8% protein all 9 essential amino acids and is a good source of fibre. There is twice as much calcium in carob compared to milk and in contrast to cacao there is three times more calcium, and less fat, sugar and calories.

Carob is also known for its therapeutic effects on diarrhoea, and has been known to help with nausea, vomiting, and upset stomachs.

Carob Facts & History

The evergreen carob tree (Latin name = Ceratonia Siliqua) although very large at 7-10 meters high is actually a shrub and has been around for over 4000 years.

Carob is native to the Mediterranean and is a resilient drought resistant tree which tolerates hot and humid coastal areas. Hence why it grows well in warm temperate and subtropical weather like that in many parts of Europe like Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey and parts of America.

The fruit is by nature an organic product, as the trees are usually grown in the wild with minimum human interference in terms of cultivation practices.

After six to eight years of growth a carob tree starts to bear fruit (carob pods) and after twelve years it can easily yield 50kg of pods a year increasing to an average of 100kg to 125kg over the years. Carob trees can continue to yield pods for 100 years.

Average pods are reddish-dark brown in colour, and about 15 cm in length, they are slightly curved and flat like large runner beans and contain very hard seeds which are not edible but have other important uses.

Carob has been consumed since ancient times. The earliest use of carob by the Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans was of course eating the pods raw straight from the tree.

The Egyptians also crushed the pods to produce a very thirst quenching drink widely enjoyed during Ramaddan. It is said that most Egyptian Kings had representatives in Cyprus to collect only the best carob pods to be sent to Egypt to be turned into this drink due to its healing qualities on the digestive system.

The Egyptians also extracted a gum from the seeds (LBG- Locust Bean Gum also known as CBG – Carob Bean Gum) to produce a liquid which they widely used in the mummification of their dead.

LBG is still used today as a thickener, emulsifier or stabilizer for many everyday products such as food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic preparations.

Carob is also referenced in the Bible. It is said that while St. John the Baptist was in the dessert he sustained himself for long periods of time on the nutrition of the carob fruit, thus the pods are also referred to as St. John’s Bread.

Other uses of carob in the past were as a source of sugar before sugarcane and sugar beets became widely available. During wartime soldiers ate it to sustain themselves when food was scarce. Carob was and still is used to feed livestock.  

Also due to the uniform weight (0.015grams) of the hard carob seeds found inside the pods gold merchants used them as a measure of weight. The word carat comes from the word Ceratonia Siliqua, the scientific name for the carob tree, it still today represents the value of gold as measured by its weight (0.015grams).

The jury is out; Carob is definitely worth its weight in gold.  

If, however, you are still sold on raw cacao and are a raw chocolatier I think you should reconsider carob as an addition to your chocolate for more depth of flavour and sweetness.  

To purchase quality organic carob products grown and ground in Crete click here.


4 Comments

The Raw Greek
The Raw Greek

May 11, 2016

The Carob Pods are the edible part, this is the dark brown bark looking outer husk. The small hard seeds found inside the pods are NOT edible but are used instead to make a carob bean gum which is used to thicken food and pharmaceuticals.

Gina
Gina

May 01, 2016

Hi Johnny,
The paragraph you are referring to is talking about the carob seeds not being edible, these are small seeds found inside the pods, they are very very hard and inedible, however the pod which is surrounding the seeds like a husk is most definitely edible, either straight from the tree or ground in a powder. Thanks. Gina

Dhivya
Dhivya

March 31, 2016

I just tried a recipe with Carob powder and I suddenly got a doubt if I can use it raw and then when I researched, came across your article.. Thanks so much. I didn’t know carob has so much health benefits.

Johnny Thomas
Johnny Thomas

August 17, 2015

Appreciate all the information on carob, pods, seeds etc. I am not sure about a certain portion in regard to edibility. Under, Carob Facts & History, The 5 th paragraph describes a carob pod and it’s contents, reads in part".not edible " and the next paragraph tells of several groups and how the did “eat” the carob pods even raw.the information seems to be conflicting. Please clarify. Thanks

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