The carob pods have taken almost a year to develop from flowers to pods and then ripen. I can’t wait to pick and taste this years crop. The carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) has been pruned to complement the garden design and provides valuable afternoon shade in the hot Melbourne summer.
Carob pods tastes sweet but have no caffeine in them, unlike cocoa beans which are used in chocolate. I know when the carob pods are ripe and ready to harvest, because they fall off in my hand when touched. I eat the raw pods, spitting out the extremely hard small seeds, carob has a mild sweet taste. Maybe this will be the year I will try to dry and grind the pods to make carob powder. The powder makes a sweet drink, like hot chocolate and can be used in baking.
The carob tree originated in the Mediterranean region and is a type of legume. Both a female and a male tree are needed to produce a harvest. The tree is used as a street planting in Melbourne suburbs, look around and you may find a crop to harvest on your local street.
Tip: If there are no nearby male trees, a couple of flowering branches can be placed in a bucket near the female tree to improve pollination. I hand pollinate some flowers and my rooftop bees help with the rest.
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Read about the carob tree in Karen’s garden on ABC Gardening Australia