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Carob Fruit

Introduction of Carob Fruit

            Scientific name - Ceratonia siliqua

Carob scientifically known as Ceratonia silique belongs to the Fabaceae, Legume Family. Carob is the only member of the genus Ceratonia. Being a xerophilous scleophphyllous species it is well suited to dry infertile environments.

The cultivation of the carob tree dates back to at least 4000 years ago in the Middle East which is also known as the first place to propagate the growth of carobs. The ancient Greeks also relate their roots to it as this plant was also found in the lands of Greece and Italy. Carob has a special mention in the history and is also known as St. John's bread or locust bean because they were consumed by John Baptist in the wilderness as he mistook the pods to be locusts.

Carobs popularity soon gained importance and it got introduced to many foreign land was traded commercially. In 1854 carobs were introduced to the United States, and the first seedling of this plant were planted on the fertilized grounds of California in 1873. Bud grafting was the most sought after method of cultivating carobs by the cultivars. This fruit also got introduced to Mexico and South America by the Spaniards; while the British were the first to introduce Carobs to India, Australia and Africa.

Carob pods form the fruit of the plant. The pod appears to be light- to dark-brown, oblong, flattened, straight or slightly curved, with wide, glossy, tough and fibrous legumes. The carob trees begin to bear fruit at the of 15 and it continues to bear fruits throughout its life span. These pods often grow up to 300mm long with a leathery texture and broad leaves that often provide shade.

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Nutritional Value of Carob Fruit

Protein 4.8 g
Total Calories 229
Calories From Carbohydrate 204
Calories From Protein 19
Total Carbohydrate 91.6 g
Dietary Fiber 41 g
Sugars 50.5 g
Vitamin A 14.4 IU
Calcium 358 mg
Iron 3 mg
Magnesium 55.6 mg
Phosphorus 81.4 mg
Potassium 852 mg
Sodium 36.1 mg

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Uses of Carob Fruit

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Carob is a versatile plant as it has multiple uses both for its human consumption and its raw materials. The barks of the tree is usedto dervive timber to make many articles and furniture out of those wood logs.

Carob fruit can be consumed directly out of plant or even after processing it. The taste of Carob is mildly sweet and is used in powdered, chip or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as a substitute for chocolate.

Carob is used as a stabiliser, emulsifer, thickener or also prevent sugar crystallization making it a key ingredient in making confectionaries. A major substitute for cocoa powder is the ground up pod itself, which forms a high protein powder derived out of carob.

For health conscious people Carob bars are widely and readily available in health food stores. Carob is also used to make a traditional sweet, eaten during Lent and Good Friday, made from carob pods in Malta. Carob is also used as a fodder for livestock and donkeys that fuels them with high energy.

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Health benefits of Carob Fruit

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.
Consumption of carob is highly recommended for people with high blood pressure as it has no caffeine in it
Consumption of Carob on a regular basis helps in preventing lung cancer.
Carobs are rich in Vitamin E that helps in treating cough, flu, anemia and osteoclasis.
Polio can be treated and prevented by the use and consumption of Carobs; the Gallic acid present in them helps in the healing process.
The rich content of phosphorus and calcium in carob helps fight against osteoporosis
Carob pod husks are chewed by singers to clear the voice and throat.
Carob thus stands true to its title of being a versatile plant. For lesser known facts carobs are also treated as ornamental tree across many regions and widely grown in orchards.

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Culture and Harvesting

The seeds from the Carob tree are extremely consistent in size and weight and are believed to have been the original gauge for the 'carat' used by jewelers.

The carob grows slowly during the first year. Stem-elongation in young plants has been done by inducing the application of gibberellin (50 mg/liter monthly, or 25 mg/liter semi-monthly) for 5 months. Gibberelin is a plant growth hormone induced artificially to encourage faster growth in plants. An essential practice of cutting back the taproot 6 months before transferring to the field is mandatory if the plant is not grown by the tube/post-hole method. This transplant practice cannot be successful in larger plants.

As carobs grow up to become large trees with wide branches a good spacing that is 30 ft (9 in) apart each plant is very important. Most carob cultivars consider the fertilizing process insignificant, if the purpose of the tree is to grow fruits for commercial purpose one must ensure that irrigation must be provided in very dry seasons. Budded trees begin to bear in the 6th year from planting. A carob tree may remain productive for 80 to 100 years.

The species being an ancient kind has survived the ice age and flourished throughout the Mediterranean region since. It is well adapted to harsh climates and poor soils. Throughout its natural range the species has been widely cultivated because of its reliability as a food and fuel resource even during times of drought.

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