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  • Writer's pictureHila

The Carob

I have powerful memories of the flavor and aroma of carob since I was a kid. There was one large carob tree near the playground that I would always play in, and ripe, dried bean-shaped pods would fall from the tree onto the ground. I used to pick one up, break the pod into halves, and chew on the shell like a snack.

The Carob tree grows in countries across the Mediterranean Sea. It has been cultivated and used as a sweetener for 4000 years. The word carob in English was borrowed from Arabic, pronounced Kharrub in Arabic and Hebrew.

A 7-8-inch pod contains 10-15 small, lightweight, almost equal-sized seeds. In ancient times, people in the Middle East used to weigh gold and gemstones against the seeds of the carob tree. The unit "carat" originated from this system (the word comes from Keration, the Greek word for the carob).

The carob is low in fat and high in natural fibers. It’s a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, and polyphenol antioxidants. The pods are mildly sweet and often roasted and ground into a brown fine powder (carob powder or carob flour) used in baking and sweets. Whole carob pods are cooked with water until reduced, then the pulp is strained until the result is dark brown syrup. This molasses is highly nutritious and can be used as a natural sweetener.

Carob has a unique flavor that is different from honey or molasses. Embrace its flavor; don't believe anybody who tries to sell it to you as a chocolate substitute. The only resemblance is that powdered carob is fine and has a dark brown tone, like cocoa powder. Unlike cocoa powder, the carob is naturally sweet and doesn't contain caffeine.

We like to blend carob syrup with tahini and indulge in this sweet butter on toast. We swirl carob syrup into plain yogurt, use it as an ice cream topper, and use it as sweet syrup in cocktails. Try mixing carob powder with date paste, nuts, and seeds and rolling it into energy balls. Enjoy carob just the way it naturally is—a deep, earthy, and innate sweet.

Watch how a family in a small village in Lebanon has been making Dibs Kharroub (Carob Molasses) for over 100 years.


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