Welcome to another month and another round of the SOS Kitchen Challenge! Ricki and I realized that the SOS Kitchen Challenge is now a year old. Our first challenge in April 2010 featured the noble beet, and we've been on a roll ever since thanks to your culinary creativity. Ricki and I look forward to seeing your awesome recipes and are inspired every time! Thanks for all your contributions over the past year, and we look forward to your participation in many SOS Kitchen Challenges to come!
To celebrate our 1 year anniversary, we're featuring one of our favorite ingredients and offering giveaways to two lucky readers. This month we are featuring...
recently harvested mature carob pods [source]
An Abridged History of Carob
Carob, also known as St. John's Bread, has been used for over 5000 years. The word "carob" is derived from the Arabic Kharrub or Kharoub, which means pod or bean pod. This ancient food has a long and interesting history, feeding Mohammed's armies and (according to the Bible) sustaining St. John the Baptist in the wilderness (Mark 1:16). Carob was referred to as the "Egyption fig" or "Egyption date" by the Romans, who at the unripened pods as a sweet treat. The ancient Egyptians used carob to make the adhesive used in mummification, and carob has been found in Egyptian tombs. And more recently, thousands of Spaniards relied on the nutrition from the carob pod during the Spanish Civiil War and World Wars I and II. Fascinating!
Carob is harvested from the carob bean tree. Depending on the age of the tree, carob bean trees yield between 100 and 250 pounds of beans per year. Over the course of the growing season, glossy flat green bean pods develop. As they mature, the pods turn dark brown and become very firm. Each pod grows up to 12 inches in length and can contain as many as 15 carob seeds. Seeds are harvested and used for human consumption while the pods are often used as animal feed.
carob powder [source]
How to Use Carob
As a food, carob is remarkably versatile. Carob powder, available both raw and toasted, is a wonderful 1:1 substitute for cocoa powder in any recipe. Carob is also used to make carob chips, which can be substituted for chocolate chips. The rich brown color is equal to cocoa powder, and naturally sweet flavor reduces the need for other sweeteners in recipes, making it great for low-sugar or sugar-free diets. But unlike cocoa, carob is free of caffeine, theobromine, and oxalic acid, so it a great choice for individuals who are sensitive to or wish to avoid those things.
Roasted seeds have a rich flavor, and can be used as a substitute for coffee or black tea. Whole pods are eaten in Egypt as a snack and crushed pods are used to make a refreshing drink. In addition to use the pod whole or ground, it can be used for a variety of other purposes. Throughout the Mediterranean, carob is used to make liqueurs and syrups for both culinary and medicinal purposes (carob syrup can be found at Mediterranean, MIddle Eastern, or speciality markets). The commonly-used thickener locust bean gum - often found in many processed foods - is derived from carob.
In addition to being delicious, carob is actually quite health promoting. As mentioned earlier, it is free of caffeine, theobromine, and oxalic acid, perfect for anyone intolerant to caffeine or on a low oxalic diet. It is high in fiber and contains a respectable amount of calcium, potassium, riboflavin, copper, potassium, and omega-6 fatty acids. It can be used as a treatment for diarrhea, and is particularly effective in infants and children.
How to Participate (and Enter to Win!)
Ricki and I are offering great prizes to two lucky readers to celebrate our one year anniversary. By submitting a recipe to this month’s Challenge, you will become eligible to win one of our two great prizes.
Remember that recipes must be vegan or provide reliable vegan substitutes, cannot use refined sugars, and must utilize whole foods ingredients (no heavily processed foods or box mixes). For full Challenge guidelines, please see this post. If your entry does not comply with our rules, we will remove it - so please read the rules!
Entries must be recieved by 11:59 pm CST on May 31, 2011.
- A 1-pint jar of Harrison's Sugar Bush Maple Syrup, harvested by my family in Fence, Wisconsin. This syrup is made in small batches and is only available for purchase through my family. It is truly an artisan, regional product! (I'm currently out of syrup and don't have a jar to photograph - I"ll add a photo this weekend when I get more syrup for me and you!)
- A pdf copy of Good Morning! Breakfasts without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs, or Dairy by Ricki Heller. Ricki's latest e-book features easy allergy-friendly breakfast ideas perfect for everyone in your family. It's inspiring, and I'm looking forward to cooking my way through every recipe I can.
At the end of the month, Ricki and I will choose the two winners at random from the entries, and will announce the winners on our blogs Wednesday June 1, 2011. Be sure to come back here and check if you won at the beginning of next month!
We’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and incredible creativity you’ve all shown over the past Challenges. So put those carob-filled thinking caps on, and start cooking!
May SOS Kitchen Challenge: Carob
- Wikipedia. "Ceratonia siliqua" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratonia_siliqua
- Eden Organic. "Carob Notes." http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=111
- DigHerbs. "Carob - (Ceratonia siliqua)." http://www.digherbs.com/carob.html
- Nutrition Data. "Carob flour." http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4324/2