It is known as the “Black Gold” of Crete and its name is Carob!
Carob is native to the eastern Mediterranean, where it has been in cultivation for at least 4000 years. The plant was well known to the ancient Greeks, who planted seeds of this plant in in the southern parts of Greece and mainly in Crete.
Seeds were used to weight gold, therefore the word “carat.” As ancient traders traveled around the Mediterranean and surrounding areas, they turned to the carob bean as a unit of measurement. A gemstone would be weighed and put onto a balance, the other side would have carob seeds on it. A stone that balanced 5 seeds was said to weigh 5 seeds – then 5 carobs – then 5 carats.
When the fruit of carob is unripe, its color is green and then it’s become brown. The fruit of carob is 15 to 30 centimeters in length and is fairly thick and broad.
Carob also has excellent nutritional value! It contains Magnesium, Calcium, Iron and also vitamins A, B, and D. It also has medicinal uses including the treatment of coughs, common cold and anemia. Because of the usefulness of Carob, there are a wide range of products from its fruits.
For example the carob syrup, Charoupomelo is the Greek name, is an natural sweet drink made by grinding the carob pods and then extracting the syrup by boiling the powder in hot water. Used in Crete as a natural sweetener, and is considered a natural source of calcium. It contains three times more calcium than milk and it can be used as a sweetener for hot and cold drinks, yogurt, ice cream, cakes etc.
Carob is an excellent alternative to chocolate! You can use the syrup, the same way as you would chocolate in almost all recipes. And you can enjoy your favorite sweet treats with fewer calories, fat, and sugar!!!
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