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In defense of Carob syrup!

Let me say this right up-front -- there is NO substitute for chocolate! The poor carob pod and its syrup became horribly maligned during the 1970's as some kind of chocolate substitute. Memories of carob brownies still make me shudder with revulsion.

Then I ended up living 3 years in Cyprus, where carob was known until modern times as "black gold" and enjoyed a thriving trade around the Mediterranean. It wasn't until the last year that at the urging of a friend, I finally picked up and tried a carob pod on a wildflower hike in the countryside. It was love at first bite! My young son and I them came to look forward to picking up the pods in Cyprus and snacking on them during outings to the countryside. Luckily, it was spring, and I quickly realized how beautifully carob syrup would complement fresh figs, especially with some Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream on the side. Carob syrup is rich, dense, and complex like molasses, but not as thick or heavy. Like molasses, it is also rich in iron and nutrients -- presumably why the health nuts caught onto it. Use it when you want a flavor between molasses and honey. Try it first on some plain vanilla ice cream if you're hesitant, and then count the days until the figs appear in the market and enjoy!

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  1. I'm turning my raw organic vegan online show host pals to this thread in hopes of learning much more about carob & of having awareness of it revived in the community, like, as you mentioned, carob was in the 70s.
    Thanks for bringing an oldie but goodie "back to life".

    1. I've had carob syrup. Personally, I think carob, in all its manifestations (or at least the many I gagged my way through during the '80s), tastes like dirt but that's just me. I then, on the basis that it was a lousy cocoa/chocolate substitute, tried to appreciate it on its own merits but it still tasted like dirt (although in its defense, it had formed the basis of a veterinary anti-diarrhetic used to treat my dog in the '60s). I also think that whoever came up with the notion that chocolate was healthful was a genius, if only because he (I use this generically) managed to drastically reduce the virtual epidemic of carob products that pox-like lined health food store shelves until fairly recently. Mother's Cocoa Bumpers, anyone?

      1. Thank you! I would never have imagined.

        1. I ate a lot of carob back in the seventies, when I was diagnosed with an allergy to chocolate at age nine. Those carob bars, "cocoa," and coated ice cream sandwiches were small solace for my beloved missing chocolate. Later, in my twenties, I tried carob powder in a sort of approximation of cocoa again, and could taste only mud. I have recently discovered that carob is related to legumes, to which I am also allergic. I don't recall ever having an allergic reaction to carob, however, so this is a bit of a mystery. But, I am glad to have an excuse not to eat it, in some halfhearted attempt at chocolate substitute. Your post has me curious, though Plain, whether the pods are available mail order, or perhaps in ethnic groceries the way one finds tamarind? Is the fresh pod really that much more flavorful? I would imagine that fats might be present in the pod, and thus more complex flavors than are contained in the processed powder...

          1. Carib Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream was (still is but cant find it anymore) my all time favorite flavor. No - carob is nothing like chocolate but beautiful on its own merits. Do you know where I can get the syrup?

            1. I will admit that Carob and Chocolate taste absolutely nothing alike; but that doesn't mean carob doesn't have a place in the pantry. Growing up I remember looking forward to an ice cold glass of Jerseymaid Carob Milk. It didn't taste anything like chocolate milk and that was fine with me. Carob has such a unique flavor that you either love it or hate it. Although carob milk seems to have disappeared from the dairy case over the years; I have found a near substitute. Rice Dream makes a carob flavored rice milk that is delicious! One of the great things about living in a place like Los Angeles is the access to a wide variety of ethnic foods. Carob syrup is easy to find in most Middle Eastern markets and blends well with ice cold milk.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DcnGman

                Wow, I can't believe thaf after pouring carob syrup over vanilla ice cream, making homemade ice cream with carob syrup, and stirring it into Greek yogurt with fruit, I never thought to just stir it into milk! Thanks!

              2. During the "snow-nami" here in D.C., I found another use for carob syrup. Every day for 10 days, I baked different variations of Jim Lahey's and Mark Bittman's "no knead bread." None of the variations were as good as the original except one -- adding a tablespoon of carob syrup to the starter. Even my husband (who does not share my passion for carob syrup) was bowled over with the results. Try it!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Plain Jane

                  Great to hear about carob syrup -- I just found some at the market and was wondering. However, I have made some tasty things with carob powder, namely, a devils food cake that was quite delicious (with flour made in the Vita-Mix from brown rice and adzuki beans) and a hot carob drink, made with soy or my latest find, hemp milk, blended up with raw cashew nuts (adding real creaminess) and some raw honey... not chocolate, but respectable in its own right....

                  1. re: Plain Jane

                    Jane, your enthusiasm is so infectiously appealing that I wish I could get my hands on some syrup from Cyprus to give it another shot. Who knows, maybe their local product is better than what I've had here. I wonder if they export?

                  2. Algarrobina (Carob syrup in Latin markets) is said to be an aphrodisiac.