What is Carob?

Carob comes from the carob tree pods, which grow in the Mediterranean. When the pods are ready, the sweet pulp is taken out, roasted, and then ground into a fine powder. In baking recipes, this powder is often used instead of chocolate.

What is Carob?

What is Carob?

Carob grows on trees, is related to legumes, and is often used as a popular substitute for chocolate. It’s also called locust bean or St. John’s bread, and it’s been grown in the Mediterranean and other places with similar climates since the late 1800s. The tree makes brown, leathery pods that are 6 to 12 inches long and have green seeds that turn brown when ready. Raw, ripe pods can be eaten as a sweet treat by humans, but they are more often used as animal feed because they are high in sugar.

The seeds make a gum used to make ice cream, candy, salad dressings, and other food products thicker, more stable, and easier to mix. The most common way to use carob is to make a brown powder from the pod’s edible pulp by drying, roasting, and grinding it. This powder can be used in place of chocolate in baked goods or drinks. Depending on the recipe, carob powder doesn’t need to be made differently than cocoa powder and costs a little more than cocoa powder.

Carob comes from the pod of a tree that grows in the Mediterranean and has the same name. When the pods are ready, the sweet pulp dries, gets roasted, and is ground into a powder. This powder is called carob powder, and it can be sold on its own or turned into chips that taste like chocolate.

The powder and chips are the same color as cocoa powder and chocolate chips, but they taste different. Carob is less bitter than chocolate and tastes roasted and sweet, which is why sugar isn’t added to carob chips. Carob is also high in fiber and doesn’t have any caffeine.

Carob vs. Cacao

Carob comes from the pods of an evergreen tree in the Mediterranean, while cacao beans come from tree seeds that grow in Central and South America. The pods’ pulp is roasted and ground up to make carob. Chocolate is made from fermented cocoa beans that are ground into a paste. Carob is sweet on its own, but sweeteners are added to cacao because it is bitter on its own. Also, carob doesn’t have any stimulants in chocolate, like caffeine and theobromine.

Where does Carob Come from?

The first people to grow carob trees were the ancient Greeks. Now, carob trees are cultivated worldwide, from India to Australia. Each carob tree only has one sex, so to make carob pods, you need a male and a female tree. Up to 20 female trees can get pollen from a single male tree. A carob tree can make pods after about six or seven years. When a male carob tree mates with a female carob tree, it makes hundreds of pounds of dark brown pods with brown pulp and tiny seeds. The pods are about half a foot, a foot long, and about an inch wide. In the fall, pods are picked.

How to Cook with Carob?

Carob powder can be used in baked goods like cocoa powder and exact amounts. However, it is naturally sweeter than cocoa powder, so you may need to reduce the amount of sugar if you’re replacing it. Carob can also be made into sweet and unsweetened baking chips and syrup.

Carob chips don’t melt like chocolate chips; they taste different, so some people like to mix carob chips with chocolate chips when making cookies or brownies. Because carob is sweet, the fragments often have added sugar.

Mixing three tablespoons of carob powder with one tablespoon of water is a common way to replace a one-ounce square of chocolate. Carob syrup, called carob molasses, is made by boiling the pulp and water in carob pods, and it has a flavor that is both chocolatey and fruity. Use it instead of maple syrup on pancakes or to make a glaze for meats and vegetables that have been roasted.

Carob Recipes

Carob powder can be used in baked goods like brownies instead of cocoa powder. Find some fresh pods to make your syrup if you’d rather make your drink. You could also use carob instead of cocoa powder in the flourless chocolate cake, but you might need to cut back on the sugar.

  • Gluten-Free Carob Brownies
  • Carob Syrup
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake

What does it Taste Like?

Carob tastes like chocolate but is sweeter and less bitter than chocolate. The powder tastes and feels like cocoa powder and has a toasty taste. It’s not eaten by itself; instead, it’s added to desserts, drinks, and other foods.

Where to Buy Carob?

Once only found in health food stores, carob powder and chips can now be found in the natural food aisle of most larger grocery stores and specialty shops. They can be bought in the bag, the container, the ounce, or in bulk. They are also easy to find online. You can purchase toasted (medium or light) powder or raw, which isn’t as sweet.

You’ll have to buy whole pods online if you don’t live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9–11, where carob trees grow in climates similar to the Mediterranean.

Carob Powder

Carob Powder

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How is Carob Used?

You can still eat your favorite sweets, like fudge, brownies, and chocolate milkshakes. Most of the time, carob is used in food. Carob tastes like chocolate and is a good substitute because:

  • a lot of fiber
  • antioxidants
  • low amounts of fat and sugar
  • no caffeine
  • no gluten

Since carob is naturally sweet, it can help you feel less hungry for sugar. If it’s not sweet enough for you, try adding stevia. In cooking, you can use the same amount of carob as you would of chocolate, and carob chips can also be used instead of chocolate chips. Carob is also a great alternative to dairy if you can’t have lactose or are a vegan.

Storage

You can keep carob powder, chips, and whole dried pods for up to a year in a cool, dark place where the air can’t get in.

Why Eat Carob?

If you eat carob, it can be good for your health in many ways. Carob is great for people with high blood pressure because it has a lot of fiber and no caffeine. Because it has little sugar and fat, it is also a great food to add to a diet or use instead of chocolate for people trying to lose weight. The high levels of vitamins, like vitamins A and B-2, are suitable for your eyes and skin health.

Adding or substituting carob into your diet can help:

  • lower your cholesterol
  • reduce your risk of heart disease
  • ease stomach issues
  • treat diarrhea

Carob has polyphenols and antioxidants found in cocoa and are known to lower the risk of heart disease.

Carob for Digestive Issues

If you have trouble digesting, you might want to try carob. Tannins are dietary compounds that are found in plants. The tannins in carob are different from tannins found in other plants. Tannins in most plants dissolve in water and make it hard to digest, but tannins in carob don’t do that. Instead, they dry out the digestive tract, which helps eliminate toxins and stops harmful bacteria from growing in the intestines.

Carob’s natural sugars also help make loose stools firmer. Research shows that young children and adults can use carob bean juice to treat diarrhea safely and effectively.

Does Carob have Side Effects?

Carob is thought to be safe and has a low risk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave carob the green light to be used in food, medicine, and beauty products.

Even though carob allergies are rare, a study done in Spain found that people who are allergic to nuts or legumes might also be allergic to carob gum. Some of these side effects were rashes, asthma, and hay fever. But the study also said people allergic to peanuts could eat cooked carob seeds and carob gum without problems.

Carob is not subject to the same FDA rules because it is a dietary supplement. Carob may not be safe to eat in large amounts, especially for pregnant women, and it might make you lose weight without meaning and cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to go down.

Conclusion

Carob is not the same as Jacaranda carob, also called a carob tree. The pods and seeds of the carob fruit are used as medicine and in foods. Carob is used for diarrhea, diabetes, prediabetes, persistent heartburn, obesity, athletic performance, and high cholesterol, but there isn’t good scientific evidence to support these uses. Carob is a plant that adds flavor to foods and drinks and replaces chocolate. Carob flour and extracts are also used as food additives.

Carob is an excellent alternative to chocolate, especially if you have problems with your digestive system or diet, like gluten intolerance. You can use the powder and chips in almost any recipe where you would use chocolate, and you can also eat your favorite sweets with less fat, sugar, and calories.