CARRUBA (Carob) and its uses

 

This is a carob pod- dark brown and leathery and they range in length between 10-30cm in length.
There is also a carob pod in old Sicilian plate with the lemons in the feature photo.

The photo of carob trees was taken in the province of Ragusa (south-east of Sicily and where my fathers relatives live). The area is abundant in beautiful carob trees – a protected vegetable crop in Sicily. In Italian the word for carob is carruba. The stone walls are characteristic of the area.

IMG_0305

Now to the other side of the world!

I have friends in Seymour and others in Euroa (Victoria, Australia) and I visited them last weekend. My friends who make excellent, award winning wine (Rocky Passes Winery) introduced me to Palmanova extra virgin olive oil (also from the same region) and I have been buying this for couple of years. Last Sunday I went to the market in Avenel (a small, interesting town in between Seymour and Euroa) to collect my bottles of oil and was delighted to find a number of other stalls selling local quality produce – organic vegetables, eggs, mushrooms, preserves and craft.

At this market, I was very surprised to find a stall selling carob and carob syrup – the couple who are growing and processing it live in Longwood Victoria. We do not have much of a carob growing and processing interest in Australia; I only know of one established plantation and industry in Burra, South Australia.

Last time I was in Ragusa (December 2007) I arrived there via a very cold Venice. I had a sore throat and a croaky voice, and Zia Niluzza who has a natural cure for every ailment, wasted no time in preparing for me a sciroppo di carruba. This syrup was made with a huge amount of carob powder and a little water, it was stirred in a pan to boiling point, and then allowed to rest for a short time so that the sediment of the carob powder settled). Carob is naturally sweet, but honey also has beneficial properties, and a spoonful was added to this brew.

I gargled and swallowed the elixir, and the next morning I was amazed (and thankful) – the potion worked.

Carob, (kibble) has a high sugar content and can be used as a flavouring in drinks, confectionery, cakes and biscuits. Carob seed is used to make a thickener for ice cream as a feed additive for stock. The kibble can also be used to make stock feed.

Especially in the province of Ragusa, carob is made into flour and when combined with a proportion of wheat flour, it is made into pasta and biscuits. Modica is another very beautiful, baroque city, very close to Ragusa and there carob is added to make chocolate products – chocolate manufacturing is a thriving industry with a tradition passed on from the Aztecs to the Spaniards and then to Sicilians (Sicily was controlled by the Spanish from the 13th to 15th centuries).

Zia Niluzza also makes a liqueur from carob and biancomangiare (blancmange – corn flour, water, carob and sweetening) .

If you live in Adelaide, there are some beautiful carob trees in the parklands next to the Children’s Hospital in North Adelaide
( I have collected many carob pods from those trees).

The couple from Longwood told me that carob is also known as St John’s bread – it is said that carob nourished St John in the desert. The references in the new testament are for locusts and wild honey. Wild honey is thought to be the carob. The tree is also known as the locust tree – the carob pods, because of their sweetness attract many insects and birds to it.

I almost feel like ending this post with a blessing!

3 thoughts on “CARRUBA (Carob) and its uses”

  1. Liquore di Carubba or Carob Liqueur is also a popular drink in Ragusa. It is commonly made in the home where high proof (90%) alcohol can be bought relatively easily in Italy for the making of liqueurs. It would commonly be offered along with other home made liqueurs such as limonciello, nocino (made from walnuts) and liquore di mandarino (made from mandarins).
    For those who cannot digest or are allergic to chocolate, chocolate made soley from carob is a good alternative.
    I also remember my father (who was also from Ragusa) saying that carob was commonly feed to horses.

  2. Hi,

    I am interested in making a carob liqueur, do you have any more information on this. Or on making the carob powder that’s used in the tea you drank?

    I’m from SA too, but my parent’s hometown (Quorn) in the Flinders Ranges would be the best bet for carob pods. There are whole streets lined with carob trees, and my Grandparent’s place has a very old, large tree which I think is still producing pods (it’s a long time since I used to chew on carob pods as a kid).

  3. I guess that you just grind the carob to a powder. I used to buy mine from a health shop on Norwood Parade ( since gone).
    I think that you would be better off contacting the Longwood or Burra growers of carob and asking for advice. As for the liqueur- steep the powder in vodka for about 6 weeks and then filter it, add some sugar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *