Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Early Mesquite Harvest

The pods on our mesquite trees have been ripening since the first week in June.

We usually expect to harvest each year around the 4th of July, so this is a couple of weeks earlier than normal.

To harvest the pods, we spread a clean bed sheet below a tree branch and knock the branch with a broom handle. Only the ripe pods will fall off easily onto the sheet.

You can shake the pods and hear the seeds rattling inside, another sign that the pod is ripe.

We rinse the gathered pods to remove any dust, and then spread them on racks to let them dry thoroughly. The pods must be completely dry before grinding.

We started out with 1 pound of mesquite pods. Any pods that were obviously discolored or inferior quality were sorted through and removed.

One pound of pods was enough to fill a 2.5 quart bowl.

The selected pods were broken into smaller pieces and ground a small batch at a time in the blender.

It seemed to process best with the blender about 1/3 full of broken pods.

We ran each batch for 20-30 seconds, at the Puree setting.

It is important to grind the pods when the weather is not humid. Otherwise, the mesquite flour can become sticky and difficult to process.

After processing the pods we have the mesquite flour, some rough chaff, and the seeds inside the pods.

The flour is sifted after grinding, to separate out the seeds and chaff.

Mesquite flour has a sweet and nutty taste.

It is highly nutritious: high in dietary fiber and protein, low in carbs and fat, and has a low glycemic index.

The coarse chaff can be used to make a mesquite sun tea.

The seeds are high in protein, but are extremely hard.

A hammermill would be needed to process the pods and seeds completely.

The final results of this batch...

1 lb of raw mesquite pods
(2.5 quarts) yields:

-- 1-1/4 cups of flour

-- 1-3/4 cups of seeds/chaff

There are lots of uses for mesquite flour:
-- Baked goods: Breads, Muffins, Pancakes, Waffles, Cookies, Corn Bread
-- Beverages: Sun Tea, Smoothies
-- Seasoning: sprinkle on foods; mix into breading on chicken, fish and meats

Mesquite Flour is gluten free. Substitute no more than 1/4 to 1/3 mesquite flour for the regular flour in your recipes.

Mesquite Flour is naturally sweet, so you may wish to adjust the amount of sugar and other sweeteners in your recipe as well.

There are lots of free recipes online for cooking with Mesquite Flour.

For more information about using native desert plants for food, visit

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