Carob

Carob treecarob

Ceratonia siliqua

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Latin Ceratonia origins from ancient greek word “ κέρας” (“ceras”) and is related to the horn shaped form of the fruit. The word siliqua in Latin means lobe, carob. It grows on many Mediterranean areas, though mainly in Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus,  Turkey, Tunisia. In Greece we find it at the south areas and especially in Crete and Samos under various names. It is an evergreen small tree and its height might come up to 10-18 meters.  It is resistant to heat and draught and its fruits are classed with legumes.  From the word “ κεράτιον (“ceration”) comes the word “καράτι” (carati) which means carat, because the weight of carob’s seed has been used as the  smallest unit of weight for gold and  precious stones.

Carob tree was known to the ancient Greeks who cultivated it for its fruits. From Theofrastos we learn that the tree was called by the Ionians keronia while its fruit was also called Egyptian fig.  It was used as a sweetener, in sweets and liqueurs, all over Mediterranean area and Peru. In Egypt today people eat it as a snack while with the crashed pods they make a refreshing drink. By boiling the carobs they used to produce from the honey in it a simple aqueous abstract, “carob honey” which was used as a sweetener. They used to mill it, and use its dust as a complementary of the flour for the production of nutritious bread.  In the past the carob seed replaced even coffee, roasted with almonds and chickpeas.

The hard, shiny wood of the tree is used in carpentry and woodwork.

 

 

PROPERTIES – USAGES

 

Carobs are sweet, tasty and nutritious. They contain sugars at a great ratio (50%) from which 30% is grape sugar, 10% protein and 6% fat. They also contain vitamins of Β complex as well as Β carotene (a pre-stage of vitamin Α), potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, microelements (ironο,  manganese, copper chromium, nickel), a small quantity of isobutyric acid, tannins, fibrous substances, such as  lignin (suppressing cholesterol levels,  glucose levels in blood and is used against diabetes and obesity)), mucus, cellulose and at least 6 antioxidants protecting cells.

Lobes are used as a non stimulating chocolate substitute. In contradiction to chocolate does not worsen stress symptoms such as anxiety, shallow breathing and arrhythmia. It is also used as a non toxic chocolate substitute for dogs, because theobromine contained in ordinary chocolate is toxic for them.

Healing capacities have mainly the lobes and seeds, as well as the flowers and leaves of the plant.

It acts as an astringent, sedative, emollient and laxative.

Traditionally the various parts of the plant have been used:

  • for low libido problems.
  • for bronchial asthma.
  • asacough suppressant
  • to cure diarrhea and relieve abdominal irritations.

 

In cosmetics industry the flour produced by its lobes is used for the precious nutritious and antioxidant substances contained in them.