Monday, May 24, 2010


With winter descending we turn to the kitchen fire, away from the garden with its sleeping bare trees. Besides our workshop on berries, which will include a short discussion of preserving and cooking them, we have had two boxes of surplus medlars donated for a workshop which will be held later in June. Medlars used to be classified in the pear (Pyrus) genus and also have similarities with quinces. They need to ripen (blet) off the tree.

Anyway, this week we're talking carob. A lot of people turn their noses up at carob; they think of it like decaffeinated coffee, i.e. a poor substitute for the real thing (i.e. chocolate). In fact, I think you should get to know it on its own terms. Carob is carob.

The fleshy pods need to be dried out in a slow oven and ground in a 'coffee' grinder! Finely grind powder for a drink. If you use as much as you might cocoa and add the same amount of sugar as you would to make a chocolate drink, I think that you will find it overpoweringly earthy and sweets. You need to experiment. I use around two-thirds the quantity that I would normally use of cocoa and half the amount of sugar. I find it tastes best with brown sugar or honey and with soy rather than cow's milk.

You can make a sweetmeat out of it: place 2 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup of carob powder, 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup milk in a saucepan. Stir together while bringing to the boil and continue stirring to thicken. Once it has reached soft ball stage remove, add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and beat well. Once it is thick pour into a buttered pan and cut into cubes once cold.

If you must compare it with cocoa (and many cooks do because it can used for similar recipes) think in terms of fewer calories (60% less than the same weight of cocoa because cocoa has a much higher fat content) and its higher nutritional value. Carob has more natural sugars (carbohydrate) and is higher in iron and potassium.

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We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.

Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.


Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry

Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade


Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry

Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon

Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)


Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut

Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote

Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)


Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)

Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo

Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)