This week, John Kohler came to visit us again. He is our friend who helped set up our urban homestead in our tiny courtyard. He flies in from California, and this time he brought us the most delicious dried carob pods from Ojai! I had never tried carob like this before, and I was amazed at how much flavor they had and how satisfied I was after eating a few.
I learned about the carob pod when I started using it as an alternative to chocolate at the beginning of my health journey 10 years ago. But I had never eaten it directly from the pod, I always bought it in a powder form. I used it to sweeten raw desserts and other cake and cookie recipes. It has a roasted, chocolate flavor without the negative stimulating side-effects that chocolate has. It tastes like a sweetened cocoa bean, without the bitterness. Carob pods are loaded with antioxidants and can be used as an expectorant, laxative and demulcent.
There are possible biblical references to carob. It is reported that John the Baptist subsisted on “locusts and wild honey.” In Matthew 3:4, the word “locusts” may have been mistranslated to grasshoppers instead of carob because it is also known as the “locust bean.” Also, in Luke 15:16, the Prodigal Son desired to eat the pods he was feeding to the swine because he was starving. These pods were probably from the carob tree because it is resilient to harsh climate and drought and the pods were fed to the swine to save on resources.
Carob pods are also mentioned in the Talmud: Berakhot reports that Rabbi Haninah subsisted on carob pods. Pods were eaten in Ancient Egypt and were known as a sweetener. Carob juice drinks are drunk during the month of Ramadan in the Islamic faith and a dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat.
I love carob, and now love to eat it directly from the pod! It is such a delicious snack, and fun to eat. Be careful of the small sized seeds that are hard like pebbles. I suggest taking small bites around the edges first so you can see the seeds inside and remove them before eating. If you are in Ojai (Tiffany!) then try to find this local source and try these carob pods. I’ll be doing some research in the meantime to try and find more resources and will let you all know and maybe we can get them on the website soon too.
I think I may never go back to chocolate again. Maybe I shouldn’t say “never,” but at least now I know there is a more delicious, healthier alternative to eating chocolate.