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Carob

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The carob, the food of the Prodigal Son, of Mediterranean people, of the Mediterranean farm animals, and of the calves and dogs of America, also fed the cavalry of Wellington in his Peninsular campaign and that of Allenby in Palestine during the World War. Carob beans are sold in many American cities where Mediterranean peoples live. They are eaten from the hand as are apples, peanuts and chestnuts. In Sicily they serve as candy. Almost any American child will eat them if he gets a chance.

Such is the intro on the Carob (Ceratonia siliqua), or St John’s Bread, by J. Russel Smith in the agroforestry classic Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture.

The carob is an evergreen tree with rich glossy evergreen foliage very suitable for steep land and arid land. J. Russel saw on his journeys carob trees that clinged to hillsides which seemed to be almost pure rock.

It does not like cold however, and is injured by winter temperatures of 20 F. or even a little above. This limits the crop to approximately those lands where the temperature is suitable for the orange.

A big carob tree in Sardinia, Italy. Photo: Giancarlo Dessì

A big carob tree in Sardinia, Italy. Photo: Giancarlo Dessì

Why We Like It

  • The seedpods contain about 55% sugars, 10% protein and 6% fat, and can be eaten raw or ground into powder
  • The seeds are rich in protein and can be ground into a flour made up of 60% protein, that you can use to bake bread
  • It is a great fodder crop to be fed to the farm animals, much like corn on the American farm.
  • The carob beans can be turned into cereal, candy, and syrup
  • The evergreen foliage makes the Carob a great shade tree.
  • The carob is a drought-resister, and occupies rocky land where water loving crops such as orange don’t grow.
  • Bottom line, it’s a great tree if you live in an arid area. Especially so if your land is steep and the potential for other crops is limited.

Where To Get It

If you happen to live in a climate where the temperature allows you to grow orange, then you can grow carob as well! Here’s where to get seeds:

United States

Sheffield’s Seed Company

Europe

Agroforestry Research Trust

Learn More

Plants for a Future


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