30 Nov Carob, one of Ibiza’s unexpected food products
One of the most abundant and unknown foods in Ibiza is carob, the fruit of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), which is a tree belonging to the legume family. Spain is the world’s largest producer, with between 60,000 and 80,000 tons per year, and the Balearic archipelago generates 20% of all this production. The landscape of Ibiza is undoubtedly represented by the pines in the mountains, but by the carob tree in the countryside, along with the almond tree, the olive tree and the vine.
This large rainfed tree with a very characteristic small green leaf is harvested in August. It has been cultivated since time immemorial as livestock feed and for more than half a century most of the production has been exported, since its seeds are used as a natural thickener to make jellies and sauces. In recent decades, however, it has been revealed as a very interesting ingredient in gastronomy, as it is used to make flour for bread and pastries, beer, spirits and a wide variety of chocolates.
It is an energetic food with a low glycemic index by nature, as it contains between 40-50% of natural sugars (sucrose, glucose, maltose and fructose) that avoids having to incorporate refined sugars to sweeten recipes. It also has a high fiber content, which makes it easier for the body to eliminate cholesterol, sugar and fatty acids, also facilitating digestion.
Also, as it is gluten-free, it is a food suitable for celiacs, it is rich in tryptophan, its fat content is very low (between 1 and 3%), it is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and is a good source of phosphorus and calcium, being especially suitable for people suffering from bone-related diseases.
In Ibiza there are already different brands that process different carob products, so it is easy to find flours, chocolates and drinks that use it as the main ingredient, in many shops. It is also common to find desserts made with carob and special pastries in some specialized pastry shops on the island. It is undoubtedly an example of how haute cuisine finds a way to experiment and take advantage of the qualities of certain products that were previously ignored. This industry also has another great benefit for the island, as the revaluation of carob in recent years encourages the care of trees and the conservation of the traditional Ibizan landscape.