The carob is a flowering evergreen tree or shrub in the legume family. It is widely cultivated for its edible pods as well as its ornamental beauty. The carob tree is native to Israel and most of the Mediterranean region. Carob trees grow up to 15 meters in height and have a broad and semi-spherical crown supported by sturdy branches and a thick trunk with rough brown bark.
The fruit of the carob tree is a legume that takes a full year to develop and ripen. The fruit was used throughout history as animal feed and less commonly, for human consumption. Today, the ripe pods can be harvested, dried, toasted and then turned into carob powder or carob syrup. Carob pods are mildly sweet and the powder or syrup is used as an ingredient in some cakes and cookies, often as a substitute for chocolate or cocoa powder.
Fun fact: locust bean gum, a thickening agent and stabilizer often used in the food industry, is produced from the seeds of the carob tree.