Mesquite Flour
by Philippe Faucon
 


The pods freshly raked from the lawn

This is the season when the mesquite pods are falling from the trees.  In my backyard, they fall on the grass, and I generally don't rake them.  The lawn mower picks some, breaks many.  The pieces left in the lawn are hard for a while and are a nuisance if you go barefoot.  Fortunately, in a couple of weeks, they soften and decompose.

Alternatively you can pick them up and and use them for baking.  The mesquite flour will give a delicate and distinctive flavor to your cakes. This article will explain you how to produce some.

The first thing you need to know to prepare mesquite flour, is that all mesquite trees are not the same.  Some are much sweeter and some are even bitter.  You can break a pod and put a small piece in your mouth.  It should taste sweet, with that very distinct mesquite flavor.  If you have several mesquites, do a taste check to pick up the best one.

I use a rake to pick the pods from the lawn, dump a heap on the garden table and separate them from the dead leaves and other debris.  After doing this, you could wash them, but make sure that they are very dry before grinding them.  This is easier accomplished by letting them dry in the sun for a couple of day.

The most convenient way to grind the pods in small quantity is with a blender.  Blenders have the added advantage that the grinding compartment is generally air tight. Food processors tend to let a lot of flour floating in the air wherever you did the grinding. In any case, it is probably better to do the grinding outside, because whatever you do, some mesquite dust will end up flying around. 

The seed compartments and seeds are much tougher than the rest of the pods, and that is good since they are not really edible.  After 5-10 seconds of blending, the softer part has been transformed in flour and can be poured in a sifter.

  


A blender is perfect to grind the pods

 

It is better to process a little at a time to keep better control of the process.  The third picture shows the darker seeds.  It is better to stop before the seeds are exposed.

A full grocery bag of pods will eventually yield 2 cups of mesquite flour. 

This flour is added to white or wheat flour and used for baking.  The ratio is generally one part of mesquite flour for 2 or 3 part of white flour.  When using more mesquite flour, the cake feels coarser, and might crumble more.  You can use the resulting mix as a replacement for flour in your preferred recipe.  Since the mesquite flour is sweet, you might want to cut down slightly on the amount of sugar in the recipe..

As an example I give the recipe for a basic yellow cake using this flour.

Good cooking!

Basic yellow mesquite cake
serves 12
2 and 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup mesquite flour
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cups milk

1. Sift the flours, salt, and baking powder in a bowl
2. Beat the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and butter in a separate bowl
3. mix slowly the content of the 2 bowls, and the milk. Beat until smooth.
4. Pour the batter into 2 greased 9-inch round cake pans.
5. bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated, 350 degrees F oven.

 


The seeds and the hard seed cavity are not grinded easily, and should be discarded

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