Long known for its usefulness as a fuel and for adding flavor to barbecued meats, the thorny, bushy, and resilient mesquite tree is a useful part of our desert landscape. After the mesquite trees bloom in the mild spring, the intense heat of the summer brings on long strands of seeds called pods. Surprisingly, the seed pods are edible to both livestock and humans. While other desert plants are tough and bitter, the seed pods of mesquite trees are SWEET in the most unexpected flavor experience. Notes of caramel, toasted nuts, and molasses, give the pods an exciting, complex, and unmistakable flavor.
The seed pods dry directly on the tree branches, so it’s possible to harvest the pod and take a bite to test the flavor of the individual tree. Individual trees impart unique flavors to their pods. Several pounds of seed pods can be harvested from each tree. If not already completely dry at harvest, dry the pods in the sun, or use the fresh pods to brew a dark beverage similar to tea and coffee. Once desiccated, grind the pods in a food processor until it forms a coarse flour. Native Americans of the region used tools like the mano and metate to achieve the same result. The flour can be added to white flour to make tortillas or added to white flour and cornmeal to make cornbread. If you’re interested in cooking with mesquite seed pods, check out this article at DesertUSA.
Blog by Kaity Hirst