Monday, 28 October 2013

Carobs and the powder episode!

This blog post is a bit different today. This post has been in the making for almost 2 years now and finally, we have succeeded in making carob powder from foraged carobs.
I have never seen anything on the internet related to making carob powder at home, only the commercial heavy machinery stuff. I tried looking for a machine to use but had no luck what so ever. So I thought I would do a post on how we do it here, so if any of you want to have a go, you have some idea of what to do.

It all started 2 summers ago when Kev found a carob tree near our house that had carob pods on it. When I say carob pods, I mean about 50kg of pods (not to be sniffed at when free!)
We had never seen a carob pod before, although I had used carob when cooking a sweet, but I can't say I liked it that much.
First thing we had to do was to find out what we could use it for. Animal fodder seemed to be a good use, but I also found lots of recipes adding carob powder to cakes. So that was what we set about making.

We knew we had to bash the carobs and remove the beans. We tried a plastic bag and rolling pin...but this took forever and we didn't get all the beans out.
Next we tried a hammer and bag but all this did was pierce the plastic bag. So we tried smashing them in a pestle and mortar. This did remove the beans but bits flew every where, we just couldn't contain them inside the bowl.

After breaking them up we needed to grind them down. I bought a small coffee grinder but the carob just clogged it up. To get even half a cup of powder took about 3 hours of cleaning the grinder between grinds.
I tried putting them in my multi-processor machine that I use for everything! This would not touch the carob pods. They came out slightly smaller but not powdered. We gave up, fed the pods to the animals and spent the year thinking about it.

This Summer we collected more pods. Dried them in the sun for ages (about 6 weeks) as we couldn't decide how to process them.
Last week I decided to get a metal roasting tin and started to hit the individual pods with the pestle...this seemed to work. The seeds came out and the pods were smashed into smaller bits.

The carob pods

Broken by hand into smaller pieces.
Hit with the pestle
These are the seeds from inside.
The bits broken up with the pestle
Now it was broken up I decided to put it into the only machine I had not tried. The liquidizer. I put the bits in and switched it onto full and hay presto it worked.
I put the contents from the liquidizer into a fine sieve.

Stirred it with the end of my pastry brush to help push the powder through into a bowl.
And this was what I got! Carob powder.
This powder is raw. I have also roasted the pods before breaking them up with the pestle. This comes out a darker brown and when tasted is a cross between dark chocolate and coffee.
This is what I made in one morning, a couple of hours work.
I think that it is very time consuming but the recipes that you can add this powder too are plentiful. I make a beetroot and carob cake that we just love and if only for this, to us it is worth the time and effort.
If anyone out there has a better / faster method for making this powder please leave a comment below, I would love to hear how you do it.