Carob is otherwise the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) or carob tree found among others in the countries of the Mediterranean Basin, India, the Middle East or Australia. This evergreen and heat-resistant tree grows both wild and cultivated. Before sugarcane reeds and beets were disseminated, carob fruit was the main source of sugar due to its nearly 50% sugar content. Karob grows without additional irrigation and pesticides, tolerates high salt content, so it can often be found near the coast.
The fruits are thick pods called carob beans up to 25 cm long, containing sweet flesh and about 15 hard seeds. In the past, these seeds were used by pharmacists and jewelers as weights due to their constant weight of 0.2 g, equivalent to one carat. The taste of these fruits resembles sweet cocoa, which is why it is considered to be a healthier substitute. Low fat content, lack of caffeine and allergenic factors make carob become a newly discovered healthy product. He fell into oblivion for many years, and yet he has been known since ancient times. There is evidence that the Egyptians and Romans were already eating it. In the Egyptian tombs, both seeds and whole pods were found.
In recent years, the Cretans have rediscovered the carob and from then on its sales have been steadily increasing. There is also a growing list of products in which carob is used. It can be found in pasta, chocolate, liqueurs, halva, sauces, dakos, soups, ice cream, as well as in cheese. However, this list does not exhaust its applications.
It is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals with no gluten. Pods can be consumed both raw and after processing. Ground and dried pulp is used in the preparation of beverages, it is used in baking and confectionery. The flour is made from flour, commonly referred to as Locust bean gum or carob bean which is a thickening substance. This meal lowers blood sugar, cholesterol and weight. It has been approved by the European Union without any reservations, so it can also be found in bioproducts. The list of ingredients appears under the symbol E410.
Karob is a much healthier replacement for cocoa
Creta Karob is a Cretan company founded in 2006, since 2011 it has been involved in the production of various biological products from locust bean flour. The company's headquarters is located in the small village of Argyroupoli. Creta Karob tries to combine ancient ways with new technologies in the production process. Their products fully comply with the European Union regulations have received bioclassifications in Greece and the EU.
In Crete, carob trees grow in difficult dry conditions, which means that their natural environment is free of fungi and pests. Thanks to this, there is no need for chemical spraying. Although karob is not too demanding, it is only 15 years after planting that it begins fruiting. Adult plants reach a height of up to 15 meters and each of them can provide about one ton of grain during one harvest. Carob pods are harvested in mid-September.
If you are interested in carob and products containing it, then on the occasion of the next visit to Crete, we recommend you visit an ordinary grocery store. You will find it there more often than in typical tourist shops.
Origanum dictamnus plant is another flagship product of Crete, also known under the names: Dittany, Δίκταμο, hop majoram, Dittany of Crete or Cretan dittany. It is a perennial crop plant occurring in natural environment only in Crete. Over the centuries, many gatherers have died or injured during attempts to obtain a plant, because it occurs on quite hard to reach areas. Its 20-30 cm bushes are most easily found on limestone mountain slopes, in ravines and on cliffs.
For many years Cretan cuisine has been considered one of the healthiest in the world, which is officially recognized by the scientific community. It is rich in dishes consisting of a large amount of vegetables, fruits, fish and seafood, as well as olive oil and herbs. There is little red meat and animal fats in it. Does its health properties result from the quality and richness of these products?
Under the name Glyka tou koutaliou, fruits are found in very sweet syrup prepared in a traditional way in Greek houses. Well-made allow to preserve the shape, color, smell and taste of the fruit. Currently, however, the tradition of preparing these sweets is slowly disappearing, because you can buy them ready, which allows you to save time needed to prepare them.