Carob Tree - Ceratonia siliqua
Carob Tree - Ceratonia siliqua
Carob Tree - Ceratonia siliqua
Carob Tree - Ceratonia siliqua
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Carob Tree - Ceratonia siliqua

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The Carob Tree is a very popular natural substitute for cocoa, and has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean as a staple food source for thousands of years.  It is also known as St John's Bread.

Carob is an evergreen that likes well-drained soil in full sun, it reaches a height of around 7m - 10m.  It is drought tolerant and will grow in dry, rocky harsher soils, with the exception of heavier clay soils.

It needs male and female plants (dioecious) to produce the delicious pods so plant around 5 trees to ensure good pollination.  The pods are commonly ground into powder and can also be eaten fresh or roasted.

The flowers are small and red, appearing in clusters followed by an abundance of flat pods around 15 - 30cm long, which will ripen in Winter.  The pods contain a sweet chocolate tasting pulp and many seeds. Restrict watering during pod maturation to improve sugar content. 

Best to treat seed with hot water, soak for 3 days, then sow seed 3-5cm deep into individual tubes in Spring.  Germinates in 12 - 37 days.  Transplant the seedling when approx. 8 - 10 cm high direct into the ground or a larger pot.  They have a very long taproot and care should be taken when transplanting.

10 seeds per packet

Making Carob Powder

Pick and wash the ripe pods, boil in just enough water to cover or steam until tender, or place in a pressure cooker with water, and cook for 20 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Cooking softens the pods, making splitting them open fairly easy. Remove seeds; cut pods into small pieces and dry well. Put the pieces in a blender and grind into a powder. Process only small amounts at a time.
Reference: Ferment and Human Nutrition by Bill Mollison, Tagari Publications