Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Making flour from Mesquites

Out here we have Mesquite trees everywhere. In parking lots, around schools, medians, they are just all over. There's a little park I rode my bike through on my way to Trader Joe's last week and it had about 10-15 large Mesquites, most of the trees were kind of close to the road, which is generally not good for collecting food things, but I tried to get most of the pods from trees that were about 100 feet away, maybe more.

I took home the beans and put them in the dehydrator for a day and a half to make sure they were good and dry. You can't just put mesquite beans in a regular grinder because they are way too hard and will not grind and probably mess up your grinder. The flour is made primarily from the pods, and not the bean itself, but they are attached inside and you can't just separate them out of the pod like you can with a regular bean. Lucky for me my parents had this stone grinding thing in the backyard as decoration when I was growing up and they gave it to me recently. Grinding the flour wasn't as labor-intensive as I was expecting-- the beans just kind of separate themselves as you're grinding. From dried bean to finished flour, it took me about 5 minutes to make half a cup with not too much elbow grease.

The mesquite pods
Ready for grinding
Starting to make flour

I tasted the flour and at first it has a very pleasant sweet taste, but then it tastes a little bitter and has a bit of a skunky aftertaste. I have heard that each tree's pods have a little different flavor, even within the same species, so it's best to taste the pods from the tree before you collect too many. I will heed that advice next time. I am going to mix this in with regular flour in a recipe and see how that tastes. I hope I can make it work, it would be a shame to not be able to use all the free flour available around here. I will wait until I use the flour in a recipe before making a final assessment. Plenty of people seem to like mesquite flour, so I am crossing my fingers.


AJK said...

that's wonderful to be able to forage these mesquite beans!

Anonymous said...

On my little place (22 acres) just south of San Antonio the mesquite trees I've kept while clearing other brush are absolutely loaded with pods this year. Friends raised here say that often predicts a longer dry spell/drought -
Thinking of picking/gathering a few pods if I can find a personal size hammer mill.