Carob – The Black Gold of Cyprus

 

My first visit to Cyprus was in the exceptionally hot month of August when the temperature reaches the dizzying realms of over 100f as it was then or 40c in new money, in the shade. Unused to these extreme temperatures I needless to say caught sunstroke. If you do find yourself out and about in the midday sun, one of your best plans of action is to find yourself a nice shady tree to sit under until the sun has passed its zenith. The best trees for this purpose are the carob, with their broad, evergreen leaves. If you’re driving, park the car in its welcome shade and enjoy the breeze as it rustles the leaves, just the sound has a cooling effect.

There were at one time over two million carob trees in Cyprus ( who counted?) the fruits of the carob were the main export of the island, gaining the description ‘Black Gold’ through the fortunes it manifested. The carob tree has been cultivated for thousands of years, the pods are harvested to produce a variety of products, mainly carob syrup which is a treacle like substance lending a sweetness to whatever it’s added. I love carob syrup and add it to cakes and put it on my porridge in the morning. It is extremely nutritious too and contains more calcium than milk and has a very low-fat content. Carob powder, the ground bean, is used as a healthy substitute for cocoa in making  a simulated chocolate.

The  beans or pods when sucked taste a lot like liquorice and are shaped like a large flat brown pea when ripe, indeed they are part of the pea family. They can grow up to 49 feet wow, the trees that is not the pods!

Carobs hanging of a carob tree(Ceratonia siliq...

Carobs hanging of a carob tree(Ceratonia siliqua), Mallorca. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sadly, partly due to labour intensive harvesting, carob production has declined sharply. The only surviving traditional carob factory is a family run business in Anogyra in the Limassol district, well worth a visit if you’re in the area as they have a very interesting museum there.

There’s gold in them thar trees.

In Androula’s Kitchen the book there is a yummy recipe for Carob cake. You can buy it here:-

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