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The Tree
Historical Insights of the Carob Tree
Carob as alternative to Chocolate


The Tree

The Cultivation of the Carob tree has been around at least 4000 years.

The tree belongs to the leguminous genus and its Latin name is Ceratonia Siliqua.(from the Greek keration which means horn as the pod itself
Other common names is Locust Bean or St.John's the Baptist tree

It is a perennial tree native to the Mediterranean basin.

The Carob tree is large (7 to 10 meters) trioecious tree with staminate, pistillate and hermaphrodite inflorescences in different trees.

The leaves are pinnately compound (have 2 to 6 pairs of oval leaflets),

Pollination is by insects and the wind.

The Carob tree matures slowly and bares pods in the 5th - 6th year.

In traditional orchards male branches are grafted on female trees to provide pollen and grafting is usually done in spring.

There are many varieties of the tree in the world however in Cyprus there are 3 main varieties:
1. The wild (ungrafted)
2. The Apostolitika (Trees that have not been grafted and with bigger pods)
3. The Noy-wild (grafted)

a. Tilliria variety with pods at least 17cm long and high (51% sugar content).
b. Koumpota variety with pods smaller than the Tilliria variety , about 13cm slightly curved but slightly flatter in the middle (50% sugar content). BACK TO TOP

Historical Insights of the Carob Tree

The earliest usage known is the obvious one of the carob pods being eaten raw by the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans.

A Biblical reference also exists when referring to St. John the Baptist.
This particular reference has been rather misunderstood.
St. John the Baptist during his time in the dessert has been reported that he survived eating locusts (insects).
This reference has been confused with Locust Bean which is another word for carob.
It is well known that in Biblical times wild(non grafted)carobs were in abundance.

Furthermore ancient Greeks recorded that the Egyptian called this particular tree as the "Egyptian Fig".

The Egyptians not only ate the pods raw but used the gum out of the seeds (LBG) to produce a liquid which they widely used in the mummification of their dead.

Traditionally the crushed carob pods produce a very thirst quenching drink widely enjoyed during the Ramaddan in North Africa.

It is known that most Egyptian Kings had representatives here in Cyprus to collect only the best carobs to be sent to Egypt to be turned into this drink due to its healing qualities in the digestive system.

Finally the seeds were widely used in the past by gold merchants as a measure of weight. The carob seed has the particular property that it is of equal weight.
The word carat comes from the word Ceratonia Siliqua and it represents 0.015grams a weight that used to be a measure of weight rather than the quality of the gold. BACK TO TOP

Carob as alternative to Chocolate

Carob pods when roasted and finely ground produce roasted carob powder. This can be used as an alternative to chocolate.
It contains no caffeine, no theobromine and most significantly no oxalic acid. Oxalic acid prevents the body of using calcium and zinc. It is also free from phenylethylamine and from fromamine. It contains more vitamins and minerals than chocolate.
The syrup has 1/3 of the calories of chocolate. BACK TO TOP