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Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

A small tree of Eastern Mediterranean origin, also known as the locust tree, St John's Bread and the Algaroba bean.

It produces 20cm/8 in pods that are used for animal fodder, and are also turned into a chocolate substitute. It has the E number 410.

This can, in fact, be done at home, by first removing the hard seeds, which should be discarded. The pods should then be very-finely ground, otherwise the drink will taste gritty; a coffee grinder is ideal. it can then be used - those with a sweet tooth will want sugar or honey. It can be used in any way that cocoa is used.

The name "St. John"s Bread" refers to the belief that these were the locusts on which John the Baptist fed when he was in the desert; but this is an error of translation - in St. Jerome's latin translation, the options were locusta, brushus, ophimacachus and attacus. More historians aren't sure about the last three (often translated as "bald locust", cricket and the grasshopper), but they are sure that it wasn't the first "carob beans".

In Bermuda the pods are cooked to make a syrup from which a cordial is made. See "E numbers"; "Stabilisers"

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards.

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