The Herb of the Month for November 2021 is Carob, Ceratonia siliqua.
This small, ornamental evergreen tree is also known as locust bean or St. John’s bread. It is part of the legume family. This plant is a native of the Mediterranean area, North Africa and part of the Middle East and has now spread to many other areas of the world, including temperate parts of the United States. The trees are either male or female, and the pods may take a full year to ripen. This is why care is taken when harvesting as to not damage the flowers.
The cultivation of Carob began 4,000 years ago by the ancient Greeks. It was during the 15th century of colonization and exploration that the Spaniards and the English took the carob along with other plants and introduced it into different parts of the new world and into India.
The interior pulp in the pods can be made into a powder which can then be used as a chocolate substitute. The sugar that is in the pods is sometimes extracted to produce a syrup used for making a drink. The pulp consists of 90% of the plant’s weight, and the seeds are 10% of its weight.
The carob seeds have additional uses as a stabilizer, emulsifier, thickener, and more. They also have various uses in the cosmetics industry.
Medicinally, carob has been used to settle stomachs and stop diarrhea. Carob is low in sugar, and high in fiber and vitamin A and B-2. Research has shown that the carob contains antiallergenic, analgesic, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, and antiseptic qualities.
Using Carob in our Recipes!
Carob can be used in any recipe to replace cocoa, everything from a lovely cup of hot cocoa to brownies. So just take out your recipes and give this healthy substitute a try. It can be added to smoothies, pancake batter, and more.
Hot Carob Drink
- 1 cup milk
- 1 Tablespoon carob
- 1 Tablespoon honey or other sweetener such as Agave
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine the milk with carob powder in a saucepan, slowly heating as you whisk out the lumps. Heat before serving, then add the honey and vanilla. A topping of whipped cream and a slight sprinkle of cinnamon completes this drink.
Carob Fudge Brownies with Walnuts
- 1 ½ scant cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup carob powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ to ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon spice mix
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ripe banana sliced
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray an 8 x 8 baking dish.
- Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients using an immersion blender.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients, fold in walnuts, and immediately place into the hot oven.
- Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until done. Test for doneness with a toothpick.
- Cool, cut, and serve with vanilla ice cream.