Now is the time to harvest Algarrobo beans in Periana and men can be seen in the olive groves beating the beans with long poles so that they fall onto nets spread under the trees.
The Tree with Three Names: The Algarrobo trees (also known as Carob or Locust trees) typically grow amongst the olives and produce a long brown pod which has traditionally been used to make chocolate substitute and for animal feed. However in recent years it has become a valuable crop because it can be turned into E410, Carob Gum, also known as Locust Bean Gum which is used as the ingredient that makes soft scoop ice cream, soft.
When in the bible it said that St John was in the desert and ate locusts, fortunately he was not eating the grasshopper variety but the sweet tasting Carob pods.
Closer to home we can roast the pods then grind them into a powder using a food processor or coffee grinder and then use in cooking anywhere where chocolate powder is called for. And if you are really desperate you can also chew them just as children did in the UK during the war when starved of real sweets.
Carob also has therapeutic uses. It is known to halt serious cases of diarrhea in adults, infants, and animals. Use 1 tablespoon of carob power in a cup of liquid, or make a paste of carob powder and water. It is also known to help with nausea, vomiting, and upset stomachs. One French physician even claims to have successfully reversed kidney failure with Carob.
Carob is a chocolate lovers delight as it is not only delicious, but low in fat and calories, caffeine-free, and lacks the health risks of chocolate. So next time you wander around Periana and see those large evergreen trees with large brown pods why not try one, or if you prefer buy some powder at a health food store it will help you, and our local farmers. As yet at Restaurante Cantueso we have not added it to our menu but you never know.