Naturally sweet, carob is a popular substitute for chocolate or cocoa powder in cakes, cookies, and candies.
The carob tree, an evergreen with large, tough, shiny leaves, grows in warm climates and can live to be 100 years old. The word “carob” comes from the Arab kharrub, meaning “pod.” Clusters of small, reddish flowers on the carob tree produce flat, brown pods. Inside the pods, a sweet and juicy pulp surrounds a row of reddish brown beans that are shiny, hard, and flat. Carob is also called “St. John’s Bread,” because, according to legend, John the Baptist subsisted on carob beans mixed with honey during his crossing of the desert.
Two distinct products are derived from the fruit of the carob tree, including carob bean gum and carob powder. Carob bean gum is made from the beans encased in the pod, and is used extensively in food manufacturing for its gelling and binding properties. Carob powder, noted for its similarity to cocoa powder, is made by drying, roasting, and grinding the carob pod after the beans have been removed. The color and flavor of carob vary according to the roasting process—the longer carob is roasted, the darker its color and the blander its flavor. Solid carob, carob chips, and carob syrup are made from carob powder.
Buying and storing tips
Store carob powder in a cool, dry place for up to 12 months. If lumps form, sift before using.
Carob powder, carob chips, and carob syrup are available in most health food stores.
Preparation, uses, and tips
Carob is often used as a substitute for chocolate or cocoa powder in cakes, cookies, and candy. To substitute carob powder for cocoa, replace one part cocoa with one and one-half to two parts carob by weight. Keep in mind that carob is not as flavorful as chocolate, so it is best used in recipes that contain other strongly flavored ingredients. But because carob is naturally sweet, it isn’t usually necessary to add Sugar when using it in place of unsweetened cocoa powder. Carob chips are easily substituted for chocolate chips in cookie and muffin recipes, and many people enjoy hot beverages made from carob powder as a substitute for coffee.
Carob (flour), 1 cup (about 100g)
Total Fat: 0.67g
*Excellent source of: Calcium (358mg), Potassium (852mg), and Riboflavin (0.47mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value, based upon United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the USDA Recommended Daily Value. Nutritional information and daily nutritional guidelines may vary in different countries. Please consult the appropriate organization in your country for specific nutritional values and the recommended daily guidelines.
Health benefits and concerns
Carob is rich in tannins that have an astringent or binding effect on the mucous membranes of the intestinal tract. A double-blind clinical trial has suggested it may be particularly useful for young children and infants with diarrhea. Some healthcare professionals recommend that 15 grams of carob powder be mixed with applesauce (for flavor) when given to children. Carob can also be used for treating adult diarrhea.