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In Italy the carob crops further north are found in Tuscany where they have become naturalized. It abounds in Sicily and Sardinia where it is often found near the blueberry, in Puglia it is even a protected species. Crops are also very common in the countries of North Africa, Spain, Portugal, Albania and Greece. It is a tree that resists drought, prefers arid climates, suffers a lot if temperatures fall below zero.
It is an evergreen with a majestic appearance, it even reaches the height of 10 meters, the bark is greyish and not very cracked, therefore very compact, the trunk appears to be not very linear and rather irregular. It has a very wide crown which leads to using this tree as an ornamental one thanks to the coolness enjoyed in its shade. Its growth is slow, the fruits arrive only after some years from the plantation, but it also lives very long, up to 500 years. The leaves are medium sized and oval. It has small flowers both male and female but in most cases they are not on the same tree (for this characteristic it is called dioecious), the same are distinguished by the shape in fact those masculine have 5 stamens, while those female no. The fruit takes about a year to mature, has a sweet taste, is called carob or vajane and is a pod about 15 cm long and 2 wide, the flesh is fleshy, the seeds are very hard and therefore cannot be eaten. They often dry on the tree and take on a blackish color, the production of fruits for a single tree is abundant. They can be eaten both fresh and dried, many of their nutritional properties to the point that ancient peoples made it an important part of daily nutrition.
Nutritional values of carob
The carob has a very interesting protein framework, in fact it is high in vitamin content especially the B group vitamins (a real treasure if we consider that they help the liver function, favor the metabolism of carbohydrates, sugars and lipids, they fight the sense of fatigue), vitamin C (a natural antihistamine, helps fight colds), vitamin E (antioxidant, fights aging, prevents heart problems and fights age signs), K and J. Contains about 10% water hence a fairly woody fruit, 8% protein, 34% sugar, 31% fat and fiber. Also relevant is the intake of mineral salts such as potassium (827 mg in 100 grams), sodium, calcium (348 mg in 100 grams of flour), phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron. The caloric value is about 200 calories per 100 grams of carob flour. The nutritional values make it suitable also for children and adolescents who need this particular vitamin and mineral salts for proper growth.
Carob is used in the food industry, in the cosmetic industry and in the pharmaceutical industry its presence is indicated by the abbreviation E410. Below are the individual uses.
Use of carob in food preparations
Carob especially in the eighties was considered and used as a substitute for cocoa, unlike this it does not contain caffeine and other psychoactive substances and is therefore recommended for those who cannot eat chocolate because of this content.
It was used in desserts packaged as a substitute for cocoa because it is less valuable and therefore less expensive, but also because it has a lower caloric content and less fat compared to cocoa and therefore useful in diet products. Today the price of carob has become high, despite the fact that every crop can also yield two quintals of fruit, and it is not always easy to find, it can be found in traditional markets at the counter of dried fruits or in pet stores, but in this case it is very important to evaluate the hygienic conservation conditions.
From the processing of the fruit a flour is obtained while from the seeds a gum used by the confectionery industries to replace sugar as well and biscuits and various sweets prepared with carob are found on the market. An advantage of carob is the absence of gluten, this means that its flour is an excellent substitute for coeliacs.
In the past, carobs also prepared sweets easily available on the market which, besides being tasty, also had throat disinfectant properties and thus fought hoarseness.
Beyond this use, it is also possible to use dried fruits as feed for animals, for example rabbits are very greedy as well as horses in which feed can easily be distinguished carob pieces.
The fruits can also be eaten alone, or not as ingredients of other preparations, paying attention to the seeds that could damage the teeth due to their hardness.
Furthermore, from the carob we also get a syrup that can be used as a sweetener, as it bathes in pastry preparations.
Use in cosmetics
In cosmetics the carob is used for the emollient, moisturizing and cleansing power. Used in the preparations it creates a sort of film on the epidermis, the same moisturizes the skin and does not allow the water to evaporate even in extreme conditions such as exposure to the sun, which also reduces the skin's roughness and keeps the skin elastic.
To obtain a mask, just mix half a jar of yogurt and a tablespoon of carob flour, to increase the moisturizing power you can also use a few drops of sweet almond oil. Use the compound as a moisturizing mask to hold for 20 minutes. The carob flour placed in the bath water allows to have a moisturizing but also refreshing effect since it has the power to soothe inflammation.
Beneficial and curative properties
The wonders of the carob however do not end there, in fact, not everyone knows that the carob also has really relevant curative properties. The fruits, if eaten fresh, have laxative properties, while dry, on the contrary, have astringent and disinfection properties of the intestinal tract in case of diarrhea, this is due to the ability to absorb the toxins that cause intestinal infections. To make the most of these powers it is possible to prepare an herbal tea with 50 grams of carob flour and a liter of water to drink several times during the day. It can be used by adults but also by children due to the naturalness of the product, excellent against colitis, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel and various infections that can affect the intestinal tract.
The fruit is also an excellent adjuvant in diets because having a sweet taste helps to keep morale high and besides being woody it must be chewed for a long time, this leads to a greater sense of satiety without a caloric excess, but rather with a significant nutritional intake given the presence of fiber, vitamins and mineral salts.
The leaves of the carob can also be used, with them it is possible to make a decoction that helps to free the bronchi and lungs in a completely natural way.
These are just some of the uses of carob, a product to be rediscovered as production does not even require high economic costs