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The carob (Ceratonia siliqua) is actually a legume. The rich, flavorful carob seed pod is edible and often is processed and used as a substitute for chocolate. Unlike cacao, carob pods are naturally sweet and are high in vitamins and mineralst. These healthy pods also can be eaten raw, fresh off of the tree. When fresh and moist, the pods are chewy and sweet -- almost like chocolate toffee.

Pick carob pods straight off of the tree when they are ripe. Ripe carob pods have turned from green to deep brown and are between 4 and 10 inches long. Look for the pods with the thickest skin. Those are the most flavorful.

Leave freshly picked carob pods in a bowl to dry at room temperature for three to four days. The carob pod's flavor develops more when it dries a bit.

Break the carob pod in half.

Bite into the carob pod, and enjoy the chewy goodness. Spit out any seeds that are too tough to chew.

Tip

The carob pods with the thickest skin are the most prized. Thin-skinned, drying carob pods aren't as delicious. Soak tough-to-eat carob pods overnight, and blend them in smoothies (seeds and all). Or grind them into carob powder. Or remove the seeds, chop up the pod, and mix it with raw chocolate.

About the Author

Meg Butler

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.