If you grew up with carob as “the chocolate substitute” like I did, you probably have an automatic negative response to it. I mean, why in the world would chocolate need a substitute, and who thinks carob tastes like chocolate anyway? It doesn’t at all! What it does taste like is carob, and it’s such a shame that it never got its chance to shine because it truly is delicious. It’s okay to like chocolate AND carob, just not carob AS chocolate. Make sense?
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I want to show you how I take that hard, seed-filled carob pod and turn it into something delicious. Processing Carob is easy.
Step 1: Find some Carob
Carob grows on trees. Carob trees, Ceratonia siliqua. They grow very well in the Phoenix area and produce seed pods that can be harvested in July and August. My friend from the gym gave me a garbage bag full of the pods, thinking I was crazy because he thought they were just trash. Needless to say I’m going rearrange his thinking on that one.
Step 2: Wash and dry the pods
Make sure to rinse a couple of times, drain, and let dry in the sun.
Step 3: Crush dried pods
Take your dried carob outside and place it on a pan or cutting board over a hard surface. Using your kitchen rock (you do have one, right?) or hammer, give each pod a few good whacks. This is the safest and easiest way I have found to remove the seeds from the pods. I’ve tried soaking and cutting them with a knife, but it is very time consuming and dangerous (for me). Plus, this is a good task for the kids. It takes only a few minutes to pound the heck out of them.
Step 4: Separate seeds from pods
The next step in processing carob is separating the seeds from the pods. It’s quick and easy at this point. It took me only 10 minutes to crush the pods and remove all the seeds, they usually just fall out.
Step 5: Toast the crushed pods
This step is optional, but it does enhance the flavor of the carob. Toast the crushed pods under the broiler on low or with the pan on the bottom rack for 10 minutes, stirring once. Then let them cool. You can also bake them on low for a little longer, but it’s hot here right now and I didn’t want the oven on too long. I will probably bake them in the winter wen I do this. I prefer to store the pods clean and whole rather than grind them all at once.
Step 6: Grind pods into a fine powder
Place crushed pods into a blender or coffee grinder (I used my blender first and then my coffee grinder) and grind as fine as you can. It will be very dusty, so let your blender or grinder settle for a bit before opening. Then, use a fine mesh to sift what you grind until you have as fine a consistency as you can get (think flour or cocoa powder). A flour sifter would be great for this. You may have to sift and grind, and sift and grind a couple of times.
Step 7: Make Something
At this point, you can use carob in lots of recipes. I know I said it isn’t a substitute for chocolate in taste, but it does work for any recipe that calls for cocoa powder. That just opens up your options when looking for things to make.
The recipe I’m sharing with you below is called Intense Carob Bread (more like cake, really). It’s a recipe a friend (Christine M) gave me a long time ago in Seattle, and I think it was adapted from a chocolate bread recipe. I’ve always loved it, so I wanted to make it with carob I ground myself just to see how it compared. Normally I use Bob’s Redmill Toasted Carob, and I’m happy to say that the carob I ground was just as delicious, though not as dark. There are so many things you can make with carob, but this is one recipe you should definitely try.
Intense Carob Bread
1/2 C. butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 C. carob
1 C. sour cream
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
3. Set the beaters aside and add carob, sour cream, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix in at low speed. When ingredients are well-blended, scrape down sides of bowl. Add flour; mix only until blended.
4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 to 70 minutes; do not overbake.
5. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Loosen edges of bread with a knife and invert onto the rack.
6. Turn bread over and let cool completely. Dust top with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Want more info on Carob? Try these links
Wikipedia has lots of pictures of the tree and pods
WebMd has some great medicinal info on Carob
WayfaringChocolate for a vegan, raw, GF brownie that looks AMAZING!
Homeguides.sfgate has great info on growing Carob from seed