Time to Harvest Mesquite Pods!

Mon, June 29, 2015 1:44 PM | Anonymous

As July approaches, we get excited at VPA because July means it’s time to start harvesting mesquite pods. Mesquite trees can be found throughout the valley, such as the one pictured right from a Phoenix neighborhood. 

This Thursday, July 2 from 7:00-8:30pm VPA will be teaching others how to harvest ripe pods and store them until they are ready to be used. It’ll be a great time to exchange mesquite flour recipes or to just learn about mesquite. For more details or to RSVP click here.

In case you can’t attend the event, here’s how to harvest mesquite pods (pictured left):

Find a Native Mesquite tree (with thorns) in an area that has not been contaminated by pollutants--good locations are in washes, small drainages, city parks, backyards (with permission of course), and along low-traffic neighborhood streets. Place a sheet or a tarp underneath the tree and gently tap/shake the limbs for the pods to fall. You can also gently pull pods from the tree and collect them in a bucket or bag. The pods should come off easily otherwise they are not ripe, yet. Do not pick-up pods that have already fallen on the ground, as they can be contaminated with mold and animal feces. Also, discard any pods with black mold. 

To see if a pod is ready, snap it and it should easily break in half.  Taste one to see if the pods are sweet and if so, they are ready for harvest. Different species of mesquite trees can have different tasting pods so the general rule is to avoid pods with bitter or chalky tastes or ones that cause a burning in the back of the throat or a drying of the mouth.

If the pods need cleaning, mix one tablespoon bleach with five gallons of water in a large bucket. Fill another bucket with clean water. Dunk the pods into the bleach-water and swish them around.Then, swish the pods in the clean just-water bucket and set the pods somewhere to thoroughly dry, preferably on a screen in a shaded area as direct sunlight degrades nutrients and vitamins. 

Once the collected pods are thoroughly dry, store then in a clean, dry container such as a large Mason jar or cloth bag. To make mesquite flour, first grind the pods in a coffee grinder or high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec. Next, using a fine-mesh sieve, filter out any remaining pieces and seeds (pictured below).

Now that you’ve made your own mesquite flour, it’s time to cook with it.  Not only is mesquite flour gluten-free, it is highly nutritious. Mesquite flour is rich in protein and micronutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc and it’s gluten-free! It’s also a low-glycemic food because of its high soluble fiber content (which means it digests slowly so it doesn’t rapidly increase blood sugar levels), so it’s a good option for diabetics! 

Mesquite flour tortillas, pancakes, and roasted nuts are some of the easiest and tastiest ways to start experimenting with this Arizona-native resource. As more people develop a gluten-free diet, you can find many recipes using mesquite flour online. Below is a recipe for mesquite flour tortillas and links to recipes for mesquite flour pancakes and mesquite roasted pecans. 

If you have a favorite mesquite flour recipe, please feel free to pass it along to us!  And remember, this Thursday you can learn all about mesquite pods and how to harvest them: 

When:  Thursday, July 2, 2015 from 7:00-8:30 pm

Where:  U of AZ Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Office

               4341 E Broadway Road

               Phoenix, AZ 85040

To register or help out with the event:  http://vpaaz.org/event-1967114

Mesquite Flour Tortillas *

1½ cups whole wheat flour (or try a gluten-free flour blend)

½ cup mesquite flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil)

¾ cup water (or diary/nut milk of choice)

butter or coconut oil for cooking 

1.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the whole wheat (or gluten-free) flour, mesquite flour, and salt.

2.  Next, mix in the olive oil and then, gradually, mix in the water (or milk).

3.  Knead the dough for about three minutes. It should come together into a big ball. Cover the bowl and let it sit for thirty minutes.

4.  Separate the big ball into ten smaller balls and cover and let sit for another thirty minutes.

5 Roll out the balls to 1/8″ thick circle and then heat a skillet on medium-low heat (a cast iron skillet works well here).

7.  Add a pat of butter or 1 tsp of coconut oil to the skillet and spread it around.

8.  Cook a pancake until it is browned on both sides.

9.  Repeat steps 7-8 for each pancake. You can keep the pancakes warm in an oven or toaster oven set to 200 degrees while you are cooking all of them.

* Original recipe created by the Edible Desert Committee; adaptions by Nutritionist Danielle Corral

(Mesquite Flour Pancakes) http://livesuperfoods.com/news/mesquite-pancakes-recipe

(Mesquite Roasted Pecans) http://www.healthyeah.co.nz/blog/mesquite-the-caramel-superfood-salty-caramel-pecans

 Resources:

http://vpaaz.org/event-1967114

http://www.desertharvesters.org/harvesting-processing/

http://frugallysustainable.com/2012/06/foraging-how-to-make-your-own-gluten-free-mesquite-pod-flour/ (image 2)

http://www.desertharvesters.org/mesquite-in-the-kitchen/cooking-with-mesquite/

https://www.casadefruta.com/mesquite-recipes.php (gluten-free recipes)

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