Things you probably already knew about carob but I didn’t

I am thirty-two years old. My first exposure to the word carob was courtesy of Dawn’s “healthy” brownies for the Babysitter’s Club. People have been eating it for millenia; people in the U.S. have touted its benefits as a chocolate substitute for decades. So I have no idea why I never tasted carob until I bought a bag of trail mix today. Regardless: carob chips are tasty! I’d have to do a side-by-side comparison with chocolate, but when scattered in a sea of pumpkin seeds and walnuts, I genuinely couldn’t tell the difference.

But what is it?

  • Like cacao, carob grows as a pod on a tree. Unlike cacao, we process and eat the pod, not the bean.
  • Unsweetened carob powder and unsweetened cocoa powder are not that calorically different. Carob is naturally sweet but not as strongly flavored, so sugar and cream are often added to it anyway.
  • Lots of calcium in carob, though, and no caffeine.
  • Unlike chocolate, carob is safe for animals to eat.
  • The word carat, a unit for measuring the weight of gold and gemstones, derives from the practice of weighing gems against carob seeds.

Also, carob makes a cameo appearance in Gilgamesh, so I am really late to the carob party.

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