, commonly known as the carob tree and St John's-bread, is a species of flowering evergreen shrub or tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is widely cultivated for its edible pods, and as an ornamental tree in gardens. The ripe, dried pod is often ground to carob powder which is used as a substitute for cocoa powder.
It is native to the Mediterranean region including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the larger Mediterranean islands; to the Levant and Middle-East of Western Asia into Iran; and to the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. The word Carat, a unit of purity for gold alloys, was derived from the word carob.
The Ceratonia siliqua tree grows up to 15 metres tall. The crown is broad and semi-spherical, supported by a thick trunk with brown rough bark and sturdy branches. Leaves are 10 to 20 centimetres long, alternate, pinnate, and may or may not have a terminal leaflet. It is frost-tolerant.
Most carob trees are dioecious, some are hermaphrodite. The male trees don't produce fruit. The trees blossom in autumn. The flowers are small and numerous, spirally arranged along the inflorescence axis in catkin-like racemes borne on spurs from old wood and even on the trunk; they are pollinated by both wind and insects.
The fruit is a legume (also known less accurately as a pod), that can be elongated, compressed, straight or curved, and thickened at the sutures. The pods take a full year to develop and ripen. The ripe pods eventually fall to the ground and are eaten by various mammals, thereby dispersing the seed.The seeds of Ceratonia siliqua contains leucodelphinidin, a colourless chemical compound.
The dried carob fruit is traditionally consumed on Jewish holidays and the juice is taken by Muslims, during the Islamic month of Ramadan. It is used as a substitute in making various products such as baked goods, bars, snacks, cereal, dairy products, cocoa-containing products and beverages.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Eating Carob:
Carob tannins contain Gallic acid that works as an analgesic, anti-allergic, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and antiseptic.
Carob improves digestion and lowers cholesterol level in the blood.
It is used for treating diarrhea in children and adults alike.
Since it does not contain caffeine, carob benefits people with high blood pressure.
Regular use of carob helps in preventing lung cancer.
The vitamin E content in carob helps in treating cough, flu, anemia and osteoclasis.
The Gallic acid in carob helps in preventing and treating polio in children.
Carob fights against osteoporosis, due to its richness in phosphorus and calcium.
Carob pod husks are chewed by singers to clear the voice and throat.
Carob forms an important commercial stabilizer and thickener in bakery goods, ice cream, jelly, salad dressings, cheese, bologna, sauces, salami, canned meats, fish, mustard and other food products.
The carob powder is used as a substitute for cocoa powder or chocolate in cakes, cookies and candies.
Hot beverages are made using carob powder, instead of coffee.
For making cookies and muffins, carob chips are used in place of chocolate chips.
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