By Maren Slobody:
When I was growing up, my father would blend carob with bananas and milk and serve it as a “chocolate” milkshake. Upon moving to Santa Cruz, we encountered the three carob trees growing in front of the post office on Front Street and would pick the pods and eat it as a snack. The unprocessed carob pod may not be to everyone’s taste — when I introduced the pod to my friend, she immediately gagged and spat it out.
However, carob powder and chips are sold as a popular alternative to chocolate, from baking to drinks to “chocolate flavored” dog food. Carob does not have quite as much iron as unsweetened cocoa, but contains about three times more calcium, 164 percent of the daily value of fiber and almost four times more vitamin B6 than cocoa. Since carob does not have theobromine — the stimulant which contributes to the bitter taste in cocoa — carob has a gentler flavor, with hints of vanilla. Additionally, carob powder has lower fat and is high in protein compared to cocoa powder.
By Matthew Tsuda:
Used by the Mayans and Ancient Mesoamerican cultures, carob is considered one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Tracing its roots back to ancient use in the Mediterranean, the carob plant has been in cultivation for over four millennia, and is even referenced in the Bible. The plant is also known as St. John’s Bread, due to the modern misconceived notion that the locusts St. John ate were actually carob pods.
The term “carat,” a common measurement in quantifying the fineness of gold, initially came from weighing small amounts, like the size of carob seeds. The plant was first brought to South and Central America by the Spaniards and was later introduced to North America by British merchants during the 19th century.