Before this tour, I had no clue what carob actually was. To be honest, before I saw this tour I didn’t even know about the existence of carob. So I learned so much at this factory tour. The carob factory is close by a halloumi farm and an olive oil museum, so it was a perfect day for me to combine the three. I found the halloumi farm first and then I saw the other food production activities in the same town. I convinced my friends to join me, and luckily they enjoyed these visits too.
What is carob?
First things first, carob is just another name for locust bean or St John’s bread. I’m not sure if that helps you, but it did for me. I did know about locust bean, although I’ve only ever seen it in powder form. Locust bean gum is for example commonly used as a thickener in foods
Carob is a bean and it grows on trees. Five types of carob trees grow on Cyprus, and only one of them is appropriate for the production of carob syrup. The other four either don’t contain enough sugars or have a bitter flavor. The bean that is used contains a lot of sugars, which makes it perfect for making syrup.
The seeds inside the bean are commonly used for its thickening properties or as an alternative to chocolate. This factory sells the seeds and only uses the pod. According to a tale the carob seeds are the source for the measurement of gold as we know it: The carob seeds all weigh exactly the same, the name carat (for gold) comes from carob seeds. The one carob seed is exactly the weight of one carat.
The pods are cut into small pieces and soaked in water for a couple of hours. Subsequently, the pieces of carob are separated from the liquid. The liquid is cooked and stirred continuously for 6 hours until the liquid is thick and brown. The thick and brown liquid is the syrup already. In this factory, they also make candy with the syrup. The syrup needs to be cooked longer for candy until it is a thick mass. This mass is then stretched and folded a couple of times and cut into small pieces.
After the tour we got to taste the candy and to be honest I thought it was horrible. A friend of mine liked it, it reminded her of the candy she got from her grandmother. I did buy a bottle of syrup in the shop, but I’m not sure yet what to do with it. I think I will experiment a bit with it, if you have any recommendations, please let me know.